I was watching the GAA Gaelic All-Ireland Final yesterday (congratulations again to a magnificent Kerry side, once more victorious) when the following tale from Old Newry came to my mind.
‘This is not sport at all but a sort of viciousness that cannot be tolerated,’ the Resident Magistrate at Newry contended.
Mr Wilson had eight young men before him charged with affray at a football match in Camlough when the home side were playing against Drumheriff (Whitecross).
Sergeant Joyce commented that the whole thing began as a result of a linesman’s decision and his entering on the field of play.
When he turned around a crowd of about three hundred were ‘in fisticuffs’ and they seemed to have lost all control.
Two men were badly beaten. One player was surrounded by a mob that seemed half mad. He had his head down and the crowd was beating him.
‘I have been in many fights,’ the Sergeant rather strangely confessed to the court,
‘but this was most serious. I noticed a man wielding a stick. He later claimed that his brother was being badly beaten and he was trying to rescue him.’
Sensibly Mr P J Curran, representing the defendants intervened.
‘The best test is the feeling that the men have towards one another afterwards.
I guarantee that none of them bear any ill-will or malice’.
Of course he was right.
Though all this happened sixty years ago, it has been repeated religiously almost every year since, not just between these two teams but at every South Armagh GAA derby game in the county.
Shure, isn’t that what it’s all about?