AIL Division 1A champions St Mary’s College have distanced themselves from comments made by George Hook at an official function in the Dublin club before a match against Young Munster last Saturday.
Newstalk presenter Hook made a joke at Limerick’s expense during a pre-dinner speech, which was attended by some of the game’s top brass, referring to the city by the infamous ‘Stab City’ nickname.
Speaking to the Limerick Leader, St Mary’s PRO Keith McCarthy said “the club would like to distance themselves from those comments” after the quip was widely circulated on Twitter after the match.
“We go to Limerick all the time and have a fantastic time there and we would never slur Limerick in such a respect,” said Mr McCarthy.
A delegation from Young Munster, including the club president, committee members and sponsors were at the pre-match function and listened to Hook’s speech, which made reference to Paul O’Connell receiving the Freedom of the City from a ‘Cookie’ mayor, Cllr Jim Long.
Hook then alleged that Cllr Long had approached him to join a campaign to change Limerick’s nickname from Stab City to ‘Fab City’.
“The following morning I opened up the paper and read, two men were ‘fabbed’ in Limerick city last night,” Hook said, to guffaws from the nearly 150 strong crowd, of which just a handful were from Limerick.
One person who witnessed the speech said it was “highly offensive” and a “cheap laugh which completely crossed the line”.
A spokesperson for Young Munster stressed that Saturday had been a “tremendous day for Irish club rugby” and wished to thank St Mary’s for their “warm hospitality”. However they said it was “disappointing Mr Hook felt the need to slur Limerick with that cheap insult in his pre-match speech, we all love a bit of banter, but there is a line”.
“It is just a shame he couldn’t display the sportsmanship and character we saw from both sets of players on the pitch,” added the spokesperson.
Laura Ryan, head of the Limerick Communications Office, said that Hook’s “attempt at humour at a pre match dinner with a Limerick club in the heart of Dublin was a bit crass and ill-advised”.
“It crossed the line between a bit of banter and a cheap jibe and was just completely unnecessary,” said Ms Ryan. “The media is no longer the only one to blame for the negative image of Limerick and word of mouth is what continues to circulate this ready made stereotype of our city. I strongly believe that unless we continue to protest whenever the term is used it will continue to be wheeled out as shorthand for Limerick.”
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