GAA needs to educate players about antidoping, says Monaghan manager
Malachy O’Rourke calls for more education after Monaghan player’s two-year drugs ban
Malachy O’Rourke spoke for the first time about the two-year ban given to former Monaghan county panellist Thomas Connolly last week. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho/Presseye
After the game, Malachy O’Rourke spoke for the first time about the two-year ban given to former Monaghan county panellist Thomas Connolly last week. Above all else, he says the case highlights the onus on the GAA to educate its players about antidoping.
“I don’t want to talk too much about it because it’s possible there’s an appeal and all the rest. The one thing we would have been strong on from the start is that Thomas from the start wasn’t educated in any way. He did take something innocently and he has paid a big price for it, his family and everything else.
“Drugs in sport in a wider context, nobody wants that. And neither does Thomas. It is a tough one for him. I think that the education he got wasn’t enough when there is such a harsh sanction for it.
“I don’t really want to go into it, because after a match like that you can say the wrong thing, but I just feel it’s so delicate for Thomas. He is a good fella and he just made an unintentional mistake and he has paid a big price, unfortunately.
“I think the GAA at large have to learn a big lesson. If the sanctions are so harsh then that’s the way it is. Once you come under the World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines, the sanctions are harsh.
“I think it’s a case that everybody has to be aware of exactly what the regulations are, what’s banned and what’s not banned.”
As for the game, Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath felt – not without justification – the scoreline told a lie about what his side brought to the day. “We’re very disappointed because for long periods of the first half, we were maybe the better team, and periods in the second half. But at critical points of the game, our lack of experience showed, particularly in the middle third when we coughed up easy possession and allowed Monaghan to get points at a stage of the game that was critical for them.
“We will learn from that game today. We will certainly take a lot of positives out of it because I think for long periods we did match Monaghan, who are certainly one of the top teams in the country. It is our objective now – and we took a pledge in there to this effect – we fully intend to be playing football in August. And that is what we are going to be targeting.”