THE PRINCIPAL of a County Limerick School has told the Leader of his “complete and utter disgust at a sectarian slur” by Joe Brolly on his players.
In Mr Brolly’s article in The Irish Mail on Sunday about Armagh’s claim of “racism” he referenced St Fintan’s CBS in Doon.
He wrote: “When Saint Mary’s CBS grammar school from Belfast played and defeated Doon CBS from Limerick in the colleges All-Ireland B hurling semi-final a fortnight ago, the Belfast students complained afterwards that they were subjected to incessant abuse by the opposition.
“The father of one of the lads described in a local newspaper how when he went to celebrate with his son at the final whistle, he was told by one of the Doon players to ‘go back to Britain and play your f***ing games up there’.”
Eddie Bourke, principal of St Fintan’s CBS, said the first he heard about these allegations were when one of his teachers rang him on Sunday night.
“There is absolutely no truth whatsoever in the article. It’s an awful slur on the school. We’re absolutely disgusted that Joe Brolly would go and write something like that without contacting us. It’s a cheap shot,” said Mr Bourke.
On Monday he sat down with the players of the team.
“They find it very hard to take that kind of insult. I have great regard for those lads. They had a great year in hurling and football. They won some matches that they shouldn’t have won. They are a very gritty team, a very honest group of young fellows.
“There is nothing like that in them. They are very annoyed with it. We want to uphold the good name of the school,” said Mr Bourke, who was on the sidelines for the semi-final in Dublin.
“I was very close to the action as were all our teachers. I heard absolutely nothing during the match. When the game was over we spoke to the teachers and coaches from St Mary’s, congratulated them and wished them luck in the final.
“They came in to our dressing room to commiserate with us and they got a great round of applause. Our team went in to their dressing room and did the same thing. It was all very friendly and we parted in very good company,” said Mr Bourke, who added that there was nothing in the referee’s report.
He is backed up by the principal of St Mary’s, Jim Sheerin.
“I didn’t see the article by Joe Brolly but I’ve had absolutely no contact from any players, parent or supporters of St Mary’s to make a complaint or object to how the Doon players conducted themselves. It is complete news to me when I heard it. It was a hard fought match which could have gone either way and it ended in very good spirits.
“I was at the match and if there had been anything I’m sure they would have expressed that to me. If people were incensed or aggrieved in some way clearly there was an opportunity on the day to alert me to it. There was nothing on the day,” said Mr Sheerin.
Like Mr Bourke he says he has had no phone call in relation to what Mr Brolly has reported,
“I agree [with Mr Bourke] it is a slur on the school and he is quite right to follow it up,” said Mr Sheerin. Regarding the local newspaper mentioned by Mr Brolly, the principal say their local paper is the Anderstown News or the widely circulated Irish News.
The Leader has contacted both and they say that nothing was printed of that nature.
Mr Bourke is to seek a retraction.
“Wherever Joe Brolly picked this up I have absolutely no idea. As far as I am concerned it is a complete fabrication. We’re absolutely disgusted that Joe Brolly would go and write something like that without checking it, We got no phone call,” said Mr Bourke.