I was disgusted to hear of the appalling violence which marred the Tyrone county GAA football final,i n which Dromore manager (and former Tyrone player) Noel McGinn was caught on camera head-butting a Clonoe player. However, in a way thought I also felt somewhat vindicated by the (in my opinion lenient) 72-week ban handed out to McGinn – for more personal reasons.
McGinn was a teacher in my primary school back in the 1980s. As a county player at the time, he had a real chip on his shoulder and thought he was the dog’s bollocks. On one occasion I got involved in a fight with a boy from McGinn’s class. I say “fight”, but in reality very little happened. Nevertheless I was summoned to McGinn’s classroom and interrogated on what had happened. I told the truth, but he refused to believe me and suspected that I was guilty of something more serious. This was a few years before corporal punishment in schools was banned. I received 5 hard slaps on each hand with a solid wooden ruler and (although I’m generally not one to bear grudges ) I’ve had it in for this vicious bullyboy thug ever since.
McGinn’s actions in the classroom mirrored his actions on the field of play. In his playing days he was certainly no saint. As a middle-aged manager it seems he hasn’t learnt much since then. Headbutting an opposing player was not only a deplorable act of gratuitous violence, it was also an incredibly stupid thing to do considering there were TV cameras present. But stupidity and McGinn go well together. I commend the Tyrone County Board for acting swiftly in handing out the ban, but McGinn was lucky not to receive a life ban. People like McGinn give Tyrone GAA a bad name. There should be no place in the association for violent thugs like him.