Hurling and camogie

'It's family members who get affected by it, that's what I can't tolerate': Down's Oisin Mac Manus hits out at online trolls

Down's Oisin Mac Manus came in for some discussion board criticism following the Ardsmen's Division 2B final victory over Derry last month. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Neil Loughran

DOWN forward Oisin Mac Manus has urged “keyboard warriors” to consider the consequences of their actions after finding himself the subject of online abuse in the wake of a recent county match.

The 24-year-old was part of the Down side that upset the odds by defeating Offaly last weekend, securing their promotion to the Joe McDonagh Cup for next year, and is currently preparing for Sunday’s Christy Ring Cup final showdown with Kildare.

However, after last month’s Division 2B decider victory over Ulster rivals Derry – Down’s first competitive match since the start of March – there were some comments posted on GAA discussion boards that came to the attention of family members.

Mac Manus, a key stage two coach with Ulster GAA, accepts that scrutiny goes hand in hand with his involvement on the inter-county scene.

But it is the faceless nature of much of the criticism that comes the way of sportspeople, and the impact it has on their loved ones, which he feels needs “called out”.

“It’s something that’s been around Down and other counties for years, the forums and social media. This was after the League final, I didn’t play well on the day, I missed a few frees and I got taken off,” said the Liatroim Fontenoys clubman.

“I was annoyed with myself - I was happy we’d won but I was in a bad mood after it. Then there were people hiding behind pseudonyms going on about how I shouldn’t be part of the team, I should be nowhere near it… people come to our matches to see us play and they’re entitled to their opinion and they can say what they want.

“If someone said to me in the street ‘you didn’t play well the other day’, that’s fine. I’m my own harshest critic, and I try to use my own criticisms of myself to make myself better. The next day against Derry [in the Christy Ring Cup] I didn’t miss a free.

“It doesn’t bother me so much, when you’re a player you understand that people are going to say things - it comes with the territory. But it’s family members who really get affected by it, that’s what I can’t tolerate.

“I wouldn’t read it but my mum or my sister would see it and be annoyed, no matter how many times I say ‘don’t look near it’. It is something that needs addressed because in this age of promoting the importance of good mental health, it is not needed.”

Mac Manus is keen to make it clear that he doesn’t want to “censor everyone”. Rather, he wants to encourage people to consider the wider implications of their words before posting criticism online.

“I just want to try and raise awareness, to maybe get people to think a wee bit before they write or say something online. Just take a couple of seconds to think ‘should I be saying this about this person? Do I need to say it?’

“This is not a call to arms to ban everything or to censor everyone, people are entitled to their opinions – positive or negative - and rightly so. I just feel it is about time people were called out on this, and I’m asking people to think before they put stuff out there.”

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Hurling and camogie