A matter raised by Castlepollard Hurling Club delegate Mick Macken at last night’s Westmeath GAA county committee meeting in TEG Cusack Park is to be brought up at a forthcoming meeting of the GAA’s Ard Chomhairle.
“I’d just like to voice an opinion,” Mr Macken said at the end of the meeting, “and extreme disquiet, on my part, with the attitude of players all over the country to Amhrán na bhFiann.
“In hurling games, they’re wearing helmets right through it. They’re walking away before it finishes. And it happens in club games, county games, and so on.
“It’s the same in football and hurling. They’re breaking up before it finishes. I just can’t understand it. I think it’s unbelievable, and I don’t know if one can do anything about it, or whether it can be dealt with by a directive.
“I think something should be done. We’re the only country in the world that starts cheering about three quarters of the way through the national anthem. And that’s crowds as well.”
While the time has passed for getting the matter raised at Congress, the county board’s Central Council delegate, Tom Farrell, agreed to raise it at the body’s next meeting on Saturday.
Both Cllr Farrell and the chairman of the county board, Billy Foley, were in absolute agreement with Mr Macken’s complaint.
“It is covered by a rule, and I think it’s not being implemented. But you’re right to raise it,” said Cllr Farrell.
“I think we need to look into our own laws here and punish those who don’t respect our national anthem,” Mr Foley added, drawing a stark contrast between GAA outfits in the North and the rest of the country.
“We were in Belfast on Sunday for the hurling, and I can assure you that the Antrim hurlers didn’t have their helmets on.”
Tom Keegan (Clonkill) suggested that hurling and football managers at all levels, but particularly at inter-county level, should be put on notice that respect for the national anthem should be drilled into all players.