BY CHRIS MCNULTY
DONEGAL minor football manager Declan Bonner has hit out strongly after one of his players was taunted about the death of his father during last Sunday’s game against Tyrone.
Bonner, writing in his weekly column in this newspaper, claims that his team’s captain, Micheál Carroll, was ‘the victim of some of the worst verbal abuse you could imagine’.
It has been alleged that two Tyrone players mocked Carroll about his father’s death. Francie Carroll, a former Donegal footballer, passed away in February 2014 after a short battle with cancer. Bonner has blasted the treatment of the 17-year-old from Gaoth Dobhair as ‘toxic’.
“If this is what is going to happen in games, then I don’t want to be a part of it,” Bonner said.
“I would rather walk away than be involved in something that has become so toxic.
“Sledging (attempting to disrupt an opponent’s performance through personal abuse) is part and parcel of the game now, but there are certain boundaries that should not be crossed. This whole thing has gone to a new level and in our minor game against Tyrone on Sunday, those boundaries were crossed to sickening levels.
“We all know that this goes on and I think everyone accepts that it just has become a big part of the game now, but when the verbals extend to the bereavement of a family member or a loved one, there has to be a line drawn.”
Bonner has raised his concerns with Donegal County Board officials, who have declined to comment on the matter.
Following several incidents in the senior game between the counties, talk of ‘sledging’ has dominated Gaelic Games media coverage and the alleged incidents involving Carroll have left a sour taste in the Donegal camp.
Bonner said: “It shows a lack of respect. Something needs to be done here because sledging has really gone to a crazy level. Where will it stop?
“It’s something that shouldn’t happen at any level, but it really is worrying when you see this type of behaviour going on with 17-year-olds.
“Only the people involved with teams can sort this problem out. Of course you do what you have to do to win – but does that really extend to goading a young lad about the death of someone close to them?”