GAA Football

Former Armagh boss Paul Grimley hits out at 'moronic cowards' over hate mail

GRIM READING: Former Armagh manager Paul Grimley feels that those who send hate mail are coming up against Irish role models Picture by Seamus Loughran
By Padraig Kelly

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FORMER Armagh boss Paul Grimley has said that ignoring the “moronic cowards” who send hate mail to players and managers is the only possible way to deal with the controversial issue.

Whilst announcing his decision to step down as Kerry manager last Saturday evening after six years in charge, Eamonn Fitzmaurice brought the issue into the spotlight as he revealed that he had “a box full of anonymous letters” littered with abuse.

Since then, figures such as Clare legend Anthony Daly and former Mayo manager James Horan have also spoken of the negative letters they received at various stages in their career.

Grimley is yet another victim and he said that players and managers need to treat them for what they are – “worthless.”

“Moronic cowards is the term I would use for them,” said Grimley.

“I remember the first one I got because it was on the eve of the 2003 All-Ireland final. The receptionist handed me a latter that came into the hotel before we arrived.

“When you’re a manager, whether that be Kerry or Armagh or wherever, you’re putting yourself in the shop window.

“The hate mail and the social media abuse that managers get now, it has to be put in context. The context is the phrase I’ve used there, moronic cowards.

“These things aren’t restricted to Kerry and I’m sure every manager in Ulster as well as other counties have had experiences of it.

“It’s not nice, does it annoy you? Of course it does. However, you have to deal with by realising that this is the height of the courage that they have. They are worthless.

“They’re no threat to you, they’re no threat to anybody because they feed on being anonymous.

“The stupidity is obvious too. On the front envelope your address will be written in neat, adult handwriting and they’ll try and disguise the inside writing as child-like. That says it all.

“Of course it’s not fair but you really need to put into the context that you’re dealing with people who are basically zealots and they’ll always be zealots.

“They’re never going to damage people who have such great integrity or ability.

“For me, our GAA players and managers are the role models of Ireland.”

On the abuse sustained by Fitzmaurice, Grimley said that it just demonstrated the short-sightedness that continues to exist in the game.

“Eamonn Fitzmaurice was a great player for Kerry and in my opinion he was a great manager too.

“His performances over the last five or six years would be regarded in most counties as hugely successful although obviously there’s a different outlook in Kerry where All-Ireland’s are the currency of success.

“The man has clearly put success secondary to building a new team this year.

“He brought in five or six wonderful players and they look the part. I’d say he was probably in the first year of a three-year rebuilding process.

“He has a young family so when this episode crept up he probably said to himself ‘I’ve had enough’

“I’ve never been talking to him but he comes across as a thoroughly decent person.

“James Horan is another who seems very decent and Anthony Daly, who I have met, is the same. Great people.”

Grimley, however, was also keen to stress that for every letter of abuse he received, he was able to open up a 100 good luck messages in his time involved with various teams.

“I felt like the Rhinestone cowboy at times,” he joked. “You’d be getting so many messages from people you didn’t know from all over just wishing you well.

“That’s what the GAA is really about, that’s what made you proud.

“If you have a fan base of 10,000 say then everyone is not going to see every decision like you do in your eyes, but you’d hope they’d respect your calls.

“These people that send these abusive letters are not the GAA.”

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