herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

abuse too much: reilly

Criticism crossed line says Royal captain

KEVIN Reilly has outlined the unacceptable levels of criticism and, as the Meath captain described them, "personal attacks," to which his team mates have been subjected since their Leinster final performance against Dublin.

A 16-point defeat two weeks ago was greeted with predictable dismay from followers of the team but some, according to Reilly, have "crossed the line," into abuse.

"These personal attacks on players, especially young players and inexperienced players or sensitive players, people might take that to heart," he explained.

"They might take it personally and it's just not fair, especially as an amateur.

insult

"You go back to work and having to listen to this, this personal insult and criticism of you as a person, never mind as a player, is so wrong.

"I spoke to ex-Meath players afterwards and they'd a good way of dealing with it," Reilly elaborated.

"Without being personal, they said that it was a poor performance, it shouldn't have happened but it did and it's how you react to that.

"And that's, in my opinion, the right way of doing it. OK, you're criticising but it's almost constructive."

Reilly himself has experienced moments of expressed supporter dissatisfaction, although he explained: "I have had a few interesting conversations with people. They were very brief."

The subject has become a worryingly repetitive theme this summer.

Last month, Cork selector Ronan McCarthy described as "terrible," and "way beyond what was acceptable," some of the online abuse of some of the Rebel player following their Munster final hammering by Kerry in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Previous to that, the GPA unveiled their 'We Wear More' campaign aimed at highlighting the fact that behind the public persona of county players is an individual as vulnerable to emotional distress as any other member of society.

"I know most supporters around the county have been very disappointed by the result and the performance, but there is a line there," Reilly stressed.

"I know people get carried away. You see it sometimes, especially when things aren't gong well at football matches.

"But people have to see that there is a line, see that players don't go out to perform badly.

"They perform to the best of their ability on any given day. Sometimes it doesn't go right."

vulnerable

Accepting that the massive increase in online interaction with GAA forums combined with social media's ability to directly address players has put them in a potentially more vulnerable position, Reilly - a teacher - explained: "You see cyber bullying issues in school, some of it can be very nasty. It is very similar after a game.

"People have so much freedom to write and say what they want and it is worldwide.

"There are very few filters there to protect players.

"They can interact with these players directly and there is nobody standing in the middle.

"Most guys can deal with it but I don't think it's fair and when it turns personal and nasty it is wrong."

"We have seen so many people coming out and speaking about mental health issues and it is great to see," Reilly continued.

"I would definitely encourage people to keep doing it and keep dealing with it. It might not be a physical issue but we all know that you can be down at times and things can get to you.

"The pressures are there of 80,000 people shouting for you and at you and it can be tough to deal with at times, especially with a performance like ours the last day."

cmckeon@herald.ie

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