Colm O'Rourke has taken aim at the Armagh County Board following the ugly scenes at full time during the All-Ireland SFC quarterfinal and has labelled the incident as "pure thuggery". The GAA are yet to take action against Tiernan Kelly, an injured, non-playing member of the Armagh team who appeared to eye-gouge Galway's Damien Comer.
Despite calls from former players and pundits to reduce the number of people allowed on the sideline and dressing rooms during games, the Meathman has said that the Armagh County Board need to take the blame.
Armagh were involved in meleés against Tyrone and Donegal earlier this year in the League, and O'Rourke believes the backing of the county board has given players the green light to do as they like on the pitch.
GAA: O'Rourke says Armagh are the "common denominator"
Speaking on the RTÉ GAA Podcast, Colm O'Rourke said:
"People are trying to use nice words but for me it was just pure thuggery, and it should be called out as such.
"People shouldn’t be saying teams need to go in different entrances. Soccer and rugby teams walk in beside each other at half-time. Why do they not beat the living daylights out of each other?
"The common denominator unfortunately in this has been Armagh this year. This is the third incident they have been involved in. They were involved in a very big incident a few years ago at U20 level when 10 players were suspended.
"The responsibility for players and discipline falls back on a county board. And if a county board continually appeals the decision by a central body then they’re basically saying to their players, 'you can do what you like and we will back you and try to get you off."
The two-time All-Ireland winner also spoke about the brawl during the league game against Tyrone at the start of the year and said more action should have been taken then to stop incidents like this happening.
"We had the incident with Tyrone earlier in the year where five players were sent off for contributing to a melee and then when Armagh had the problem with Donegal, they appeal and got their players off."
Nothing beats being there pic.twitter.com/lTlqRufHOm
— Ah Ref! (@RefComeOn) February 6, 2022
Armagh's Greg McCabe was shown a straight red in the Tyrone game and served a one-match suspension.
Rian O'Neill, Stefan Campbell, Ciarán Mackin and Aidan Nugent all had potential bans quashed in the aftermath of Armagh's League game with Donegal on appeal.
The U20s incident O'Rourke referred to happened in 2018, following a match against Tyrone.
Former GAA President on the incident
Former President of the GAA, Liam O'Neill spoke about the recurring theme of fights and melees starting to creep into the game on Monday morning.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland, O'Neill said:
"We had an absolutely fantastic game in Croke Park, everything you want in Gaelic Games, yet we’re talking about violence and that is a huge pity,
"In my time as president I made a huge effort to clear the sidelines down to one manager and one runner. That’s more than enough. We really have to get to grips with this situation.
"There is no need for the extended panels to go into the dressing rooms at half-time. What do they contribute in there anyway? We should have people sitting in the stands and have the managers and selectors in the dressing rooms with their players.
"It’d be much tidier and we wouldn’t have had the situation we had on Sunday."
You can listen to the full RTÉ GAA Podcast with Colm O'Rourke here.