FOR many years I have been a fan of GAA, both at club and inter-county level.
There have been great days and not so great days for Cork teams from underage right up to senior level.
Who will ever forget the 1982 win over Waterford as Cork supporters sang ‘half-past five’ at their fans as the Rebels enjoyed a massive win over the Déise?
Good times. Add in some superb club championship games along the way and to be a fan of the game was a pleasure.
I can recall an incident in the old Páirc where a Cork supporter was a bit annoyed at a Kerry supporter on the terraces during a Munster final. At half-time, he sat down to have a cigarette and a bit of devilment got the better of him.
At that time flares were the rage and the Kerry supporter went home with a few holes in the end of his!
Roll forward the years and I am now in the lucky position of being able to report on both Cork club and inter-county games.
To see players, management and supporters reaction to victories is a joy to behold and on the opposite side, the pain of defeat is shared by all.
A bird’s eye view on top of a building to see the crowds on the Mall and down Parnell Place when the footballers won in 2010 was a sight never to be forgotten.
Sadly it’s one we haven’t seen since then, the closest was the agonising defeat to Clare in the hurling replay.
This year, of course, the U20 footballers brought massive joy to the city once again and we have the minor footballers to follow on Sunday.
We should not forget too, the ladies footballers and camogie sides who have simply been outstanding over the last decade and more, and they rarely get the recognition they deserve.
Winning a Munster or All-Ireland title is never easy, from U14 up you have to beat the best to do so and victories must be acknowledged and celebrated.
I have been lucky enough to be at Cork camogie and ladies football successes and there have been lots of memorable moments along the way.
Victories over Dublin in All-Ireland finals, coming back from the dead, on one occasion for the ladies footballers were a joy to watch.
They play with a passion and determination to win and you can add in plenty of skilful players as well.
It’s likewise with camogie. They too have enjoyed fantastic achievements over the years in finals and to witness these occasions is a privilege.
Sadly, I have been there at Croke Park after defeats and the manner in which players conduct themselves must also be acknowledged.
Coming out to speak to the press having lost big games is never easy, but they have always done so.
On that note, credit must go to the U20 hurlers after their heavy defeat in last Saturday’s All-Ireland final.
Most of them stayed on the pitch afterwards, signing autographs and posing for pictures with young supporters, despite being devastated after the loss.
If you can remember, cast your mind back to the 1982 hammering of Waterford by Cork, 5-31 to 3-6, and a moment in that game that would probably cause much debate among supporters and pundits had it happened these days.
With the Déise well beaten Cork’s Ray Cummins bore down on goal and he could have easily found the back of the net. He chose to put the ball over the bar, deciding not to add to the humiliation.
Plenty of people these days would say he should have buried it. That you never stop and keep piling on the scores. Others would say fair play to Ray and it was the right thing to do.
And here is the point of my discussion, the so-called ‘keyboard warriors’ that come out in their droves after Cork defeats in particular.
The age of online media has made it easy for them to hide behind ‘pseudo names’ where the identity is hidden as they make unfair personal comments about players and team management.
They are entitled to their opinion but when it gets personal then it goes too far. Comments like one made about one of the U20 hurlers was, ‘he should have stayed on the farm milking cows’. I quote that one as others were far more over the top and the vile language used about them should not be repeated anywhere.
Have your say, but it should not descend into the personal attacks. I can understand the frustration of fans, as that is what I am first and foremost. There have been plenty of times when my head has been in my hands.
We have to remember they give up their time for training, with the squad and on their own, often at personal cost to their work, college, school, and social lives.
Win and the rewards are great, lose and the level of personal abuse some suffer online, in particular, is just not acceptable.
We shouldn’t forget they all have families, partners and friends who have to listen or read it.
Would you like to read that about your family member or friend?
Of course, there are plenty of genuine supporters out there who will be back in their numbers next year in hope that the drought will end for Cork hurling.
I have a 12-year-old daughter who regularly travels to games with me and, sadly, she has never witnessed an All-Ireland minor, U20/21 or senior hurling win for Cork.
That doesn’t mean the red jersey won’t be donned again next year as we head off to game after game, first and foremost as supporters, sometimes as a reporter.
In that role you have to criticise when necessary and call it as we see it,
Online personal abuse is not acceptable and it simply shouldn’t happen.
Have your opinion, we all do, but personal abuse of players and management has no place in the game.