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Cork Camogie Star Ashling Thompson Detailed The Abhorrent Verbal Abuse She Has Suffered During Games

Cork Camogie Star Ashling Thompson Detailed The Abhorrent Verbal Abuse She Has Suffered During Games
By PJ Browne Updated

Ashling Thompson, who captained Cork to victory in this year's All-Ireland camogie final, has suffered abuse, both verbal and physical, for much of her GAA career.

On Wednesday night's Off The Ball, Thompson elabourated on the topic which she had touched on during an interview with Sean Moncrieff recently.

In 2009, the Cork captain was involved in a car accident resulting in injuries which left her unable to play her favoured sport. A spiral into depression followed.

This was exacerbated by the suicides of two individuals close to her in 2012, one of them was her boyfriend.

It was also a period in her life during which verbal abuse on the pitch became a regularity.

It has happened throughout my career. It first started when I was going through those tough few years between 2009 and 2012. It started out to be my own fault really where I was acting out in games. I had no one to blame except myself for that.

I definitely suffered from 2012 onwards where people would lash out and try to get the better of me by abusing me vocally aswell as physically.

Thompson clarified that by 'acting out', she meant losing her temper on the pitch, though it was only ever to defend herself.

She went on to tell of one particularly abhorrent incident which saw an opponent reference an especially dark time in her life when she had contemplated suicide.

There was one standout club, I won't name names - it's not because I'm afraid to - it would just completely fall back on myself and them.

The past was brought up and I was told that when I had the chance to give up on myself, I should have taken the chance.

My ex-partner [who had taken his own life] was brought into it aswell, [they said] you know 'would you blame him?'

It's shocking really. I never expected someone to steep that low. I wouldn't expect it from my own worst enemy. When you hear it coming out of a supposed athlete's mouth, especially at senior level, you wouldn't see it at junior Z, so I couldn't undertand how people act this way.

It was shocking and it took everything in my power not to bury my fist down their throat.

During a inter-county game this season, Thompson even received abuse from an opposition backroom team member.

Sometimes you do get a game where the referee does hear it and does nothing about it.

I remember another county game, where a physio actually came into the field - they shouldn't have been on the field at the time - and called me a C-U-N-T; out of nowhere.

Tensions were getting high but just becaue the game was so close. There was a late pull, but it wasn't dirty or intentional whatsoever. It was completely accidental, apologies were made. The physio ran in and called me that.

Somehow, Thompson has become accustomed to the abuse. It is something that she has learned to shut out during games.

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If it was someone who hadn't been through hardships, they wouldn't be able to control it. I just think that everything's a learning curve. I've been kicked down so many times from friends and people in the past that it is just something that you learn to take on the chin.

Maybe I'm just stronger than I think.

I think it's just natural that I block any type of negativity out of my game.

Vengeance, for her, does not come via words or violence. Instead - admirably - she acquires it through her play.

I tend to channel my revenge through my play. My answer is to absolutely destroy them on the field.

That's how I retaliate; by absolutely winning very single ball that I can and just destroying them as a player.

I soak all of that up and that really makes me a better player because all I want to do is prove people wrong. I love to prove people wrong and let them know that they're not going to get the better of me.

Thompson's openness about her experiences led to the show receiving numerous messages.

One in particular was read out by Ger Gilroy. It came from the sister of a former inter-county player who had endured bullying by fellow panel members. As a result, she never played football again.

Thompson had advice for anyone going through a similar situation.

Don't ever quit or back down from anyone. Go straight to management with the one or two teammates that you trust, tell them about everything that has gone on. There should definitely be immediate suspension or some sort of punishment for those players.

Because that's absolutely disgusting and if I told someone on the team that girls were bullying me, they would be in such a bad light. Don't ever think that they're going to take the place [defend] an absolute bully. No one is going to take the place of an absolute bully.

Once it comes out, people are going to have your back.

When it's all done, put your revenge into your training and be the best athlete that you can be and prove everyone wrong.

You can listen to the full interview with Ashling Thompson below.

Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Watch: Cork's Ashling Thompson's Emotional Interview On Depression With Ray D'Arcy

Read: All-Star Hurler Maurice Shanahan Opens Up Regarding Suicide Attempts

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