Cahal Carvill

Cahal Carvill: Nice guys can finish first

THE MacRory Cup final took place at the weekend to limited fanfare, I am still a strong advocate for this particular competition retaining its St Patrick’s Day status within the GAA calendar. There is no reason to my mind why this had to be changed. At the final whistle on Sunday there was the usual outpouring of elation as Omagh supporters raced onto the field to congratulate their all-conquering heroes.

During the celebrations, Tomas Haigney was awarded a well-deserved man of the match award by BBC’s Mark Sidebottom. During the presentation ceremony Tomas’ mother was invited in to present him with the award. It was a heart-warming moment as both embraced with tears in their eyes, with Tomas’ mum declaring how proud she was of him. No doubt she kicked every ball on Sunday as she roared Tomas and his Omagh teammates on to victory.

Any GAA player will no doubt have their own story of the support and backing from their mother, the weekly taxi journeys to training, the traveling the length and breadth of the country to be there for all the games. The proud bond between a mother and a son in the sporting arena is something special and is something to be treasured.


Unfortunately, in today’s world how young men view women is continuing to change and is being influenced more and more by what they see and read online. Ahead of his twitter spat with Greta Thunberg some months ago I had never heard of Andrew Tate – apparently he was on Big Brother in 2016 and is an ex-Kick Boxing world champion. His fame these days derides from his “ultra-masculine, ultra-luxurious lifestyle” – I’ve done some digging in preparation for this article and all I can say is the man is a clown, a caricature of a caricature of right-wing, faux internet masculine nonsense. He claims to be a trillionaire! That’s right a trillionaire, which would put his wealth at over five times that of Elon Musk at the height of his powers.

The Guardian did a long form piece on his businesses at the weekend confirming that there is no obvious source of income that would put him anywhere near the billionaire status. Prior to his recent incarceration in Romania, he resided in a renovated meat factory outside Budapest. Outside of his fake proclamations about how wealthy he is (which of itself is not poisonous though aspiring to such a lifestyle is hardly to be seen as a positive thing), it is his views on women that are particularly troubling. In a podcast last year he proclaimed proudly that, “I am absolutely sexist, and I’m absolutely a misogynist.” During the #MeToo movement in 2017 he tweeted that rape victims bore some responsibility for being raped. He also believes that women “Belong to men” and that they should, “Shut the F*** up, have kids, sit at home, be quiet and make coffee”. This is the tip of the iceberg.

I spoke to a number of teachers in both primary and secondary schools about the impact Tate specifically is having on the young males of today. These teachers are employed in respected primary and secondary schools heavily involved in the GAA that have produced countless club, county and international stars. The one consistent theme that came back from my questions about Tate and his influence, particularly on young male GAA players, was that it was a real problem.

Those in mixed schools confirm that most of the women in the schools didn’t know who Tate was but the majority of the male students did and could recite verbatim some of Tate’s grandiose opinions and harmful rhetoric verbatim. I see a lot of commentary both online and anecdotally saying that no one actually takes Tate seriously and everyone knows he is a grifter spouting nonsense. That may be the case with some grown-ups but the figures show that the contempt Tate and others of his ilk have for women is having an extremely concerning impact. Though these figures cannot be directly attributed to what is being consumed online, no one can deny the figures that show that Ireland is a very dangerous place to be a woman

In July last year the Irish Times published an article remembering each of the 239 women who had been killed in violent circumstances in the Republic of Ireland since 1996. 2022 was also the worst year in a decade for violence against women. Women’s Aid confirmed last year that more than 25,000 contacts were made to it, in those calls and online chats, women disclosed assaults with weapons, of humiliation and threats of violence, of intimate images being shared online without consent and of having no access to their own money. In September 2022 the Garda released figures showing that the majority of murders in the Republic of Ireland in 2021 had a domestic violence motivation.

Northern Ireland is no better, in fact it is worse. Northern Ireland has the joint highest rate in Europe of women killed as a result of domestic violence .

PSNI figures from the Christmas period in 2021 showed that the force received reports of almost 2,000 domestic abuse incidents between 14 December 2021 and 1 January 2022. That’s 125 per day!

Earlier this year in my home County in Armagh, Natalie McNally was violently and brutally stabbed to death along with her unborn child Dean. The cruelty of it all remains almost beyond comprehension. I will not comment on the events that have taken place since her death outside of saying that the strength and leadership shown by her family in the face of unimaginable pain is a lesson to us all.

Though these figures make for extremely uncomfortable reading it is not all as bleak as it may seem. During the Mayo vs Armagh game in the National League the 13,000 strong patrons rose to their feet in the 32 minute in an act of solidarity with the McNally family who attended the game. At the end of the match the players stood with the family and applauded them.

The Camogie Association recently named their Division Five All-Ireland trophy after Aisling Murphy the young Tullamore camogie player attacked and killed last year in broad daylight while out for a run near her home.

Parents also have a responsibility to take an interest in what their children are consuming online, privacy and safe search features should be applied to all devices and an open and frank conversation needs to be had with young boys and men. The concept of toxic misogyny is in my view a factor in why the Island of Ireland has such a terrible record of violence against women, people like Tate are a symptom not the cause as they implore men to think of women as the lesser. I have had the great fortune of having grown up and worked with some very strong and inspiring women, all of my direct bosses in work are female, who on a daily basis set a standard of excellence that can only be aspired to.

Education is key and this is where the GAA, through both its actions and initiatives can have a positive impact and I would implore the next GAA President to put this as one of the centerpieces of their tenure.

Respect should be the cornerstone of our relationships with women and as GAA players and role models we should set an example of how women should be talked about and treated, whether in the changing rooms or during the off season.

If you want to hope for the future, look for the clip of Tomas Haigney at the final whistle, in the midst of such a tragedy that dominates the news cycle at present, the outpouring of his love for his mother will do your heart good. Tomas in that movement showed that there is still some hope for the generation to come and on Sunday past at least, nice guys finished first.

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