A Wicklow inter-country hurler has threatened to quit the sport after saying he was at the end of racist abuse during his county's Kehoe Cup final game against Meath last Sunday.
Andy O'Brien, a member of the travelling community , told the Irish Daily Star of the alleged abuse and that it was his first time in a decade of playing with the Garden county he was subject to such vitriol.
I was racially abused. It was out of order. I was called 'tinker' and 'knacker' and every name under the sun,
I was shocked that this would happen at inter-county level. I have played for Wicklow for over 10 years and this is the first time I was racially abused.
It's blatant discrimination. Like 'go back to the campfire' I've never been in a caravan in my life.
I'm determined to do something about this. I have a lot of nephews and I don't want this happening to them."
He went on to say that the abuse was heard by his Father and others at the game;
My family was there and my father heard it, it's racism and is just the same as racism against a black person. I will pack in the hurling if nothing is done about this.
Wicklow have lodged a complaint, which is being investigated by the GAA, while Meath claim to be unaware of the claim and are awaiting the referee's report. O'Brien was sent off in the game, due, he claims, to the abuse he suffered. While it is acceptable in most eyes to try wind a player up to provoke them, using racial abuse to do so simply isn't.
Lee Chin, the Wexford midfield star, was another to have suffered abuse in the recent past, as was as young star Israel Ilunga of Westmeath, while a Cork underage team walked away from the pitch after a player claimed he was racially abused last year. While it is certainly not a pandemic, it is becoming worryingly regular and something the GAA needs to continue to tackle.