Ulster GAA issue warning after Tyrone SFC final pitch invasion

Fans invaded pitch after Dungannon’s win over Trillick at Healy Park on Sunday

Supporters invade the pitch at Healy Park following Dungannon’s win over Trillick. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho

Ulster GAA has responded strongly to the scenes at Sunday evening's Tyrone football final, threatening that all of its matches in Northern Ireland may have to go behind closed doors.

Dungannon Clarkes won a first county football title in 64 years, defeating Trillick after extra-time on a penalty shoot-out in Healy Park, Omagh.

Many of the club’s supporters invaded the pitch afterwards and the scenes, seen on social media, show a lack of social distancing and other public health precautions.

“With more county finals due in the coming weeks,” ran a statement from the provincial council, “Ulster GAA is again appealing to all our units to behave responsibly. The scenes of last night cannot be repeated or we will risk going back to a position where all games will be played behind closed doors.”


The matter created a firestorm of controversy on Monday morning with Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster, critical of the incident on Twitter.

“Deeply concerned about the images from yesterday’s GAA match. Significant milestone for Dgn but Covid-19 is no respecter of victories. Other events being responsible. Sport & health will be the losers. @UlsterGAA need to address this. Serious questions arising from videos.”

Northern Ireland restrictions on crowds at matches have been more permissive than south of the boarder where 200 spectators were allowed to attend last weekend’s county finals and other matches for the first time since early August. Instead, limits of 400 have been in place in the North, meaning that roughly 200 Dungannon supporters were able to attend.

The matter came as an embarrassment to Ulster GAA, which responded swiftly.

“In light of post-match scenes following yesterday’s Tyrone senior football championship final, Ulster GAA is strongly re-iterating the GAA’s message that no spectators should enter the field of playing following games.

“The GAA has put in place protocols surrounding all aspects of the playing of games and, for the greater part, they have been universally observed. Over the weekend there were adult county finals in six of our nine counties and evidence from across the province is that these protocols were adhered to, with spectators remaining in the stand during post-match presentations.

“However, the on-pitch celebration scenes following the Tyrone county final in Omagh not only breached GAA protocols but, and much more significantly, public health guidelines.

“Ulster GAA fully realises that this was a moment of great joy for the Dungannon Clarkes club in winning their first county title since 1956 and congratulations to them on this success. The dramatic nature of the conclusion of the game probably added to the exuberance but we are living in a pandemic and the post-match scenes did not portray the Association in a positive light.”

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times