The Ulster Council will use video evidence as they investigate the mass brawl which proceeded the Provincial first round tie between Armagh and Cavan at the Athletic Grounds on Sunday
Although the game had been expected to be a tense and torrid affair considering the Breffni men had dumped Paul Grimley’s side out of the series last season, no-one in the 14,949 crowd had expected what they witnessed in the minutes leading up to the start.
As is traditional with these games both teams line up behind a band before parading around the pitch to be applauded by the fans, on Sunday it would appear the Armagh players attempted to line up behind the Cavan flag which along with the Armagh flag were being carried by members of the St. Michael’s Enniskillen band, following some initial jostling, several players got involved and unsightly scenes ensued.
With Armagh set to face the winners of the Tyrone against Monaghan game in the semi-final on June 19th the Ulster Council will be keen to act promptly and may impose fines on both counties or suspend players.
Although none of the Armagh players made themselves available for interview after the game Paul Grimley suggested the pre-match incident told the Mail, “There was a bit of pulling and dragging as the boys lined up behind the band, a few jerseys were ripped. Some people will want to make a big thing out of it, these things happen and we will have to see what comes out of it further down the line.”
Cavan boss Terry Hyland suggested the two Ulster sides had got involved in an “issue over flags”.
“It should not have happened. Martin Dunne had to be pulled from the starting line out following the row, he sustained a hand injury, so from our point of view that is disappointing.”
Armagh central defender Brendan Donaghy was another player who was injured in the pre-match chaos. When the parade finally got underway he received treatment for an injury above his eye.
With both Counties waiting on news on their fates from the Ulster Council it should be remembered Sundays incident was not the first between the Counties, which some GAA historians suggest dates back to the fifties. Considering the age of some of the band members who were feet away from the brawl the powers that be may well come down heavily on both Counties.