Éamonn Fitzmaurice said the parents of a boy who suffered alleged racist chants in a football match were “quite unsettled” by it and that his school wants to take a “strong stand” against it.
It was confirmed that Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne – where Fitzmaurice is principal – had written to Croke Park claiming that one of their players was racially abused in the Hogan Cup semi-final last month.
Naas CBS beat Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne to advance to the final where they lost by a point to St Michael’s Enniskillen.
Speaking on the RTÉ Radio 1 show Today with Sean O’Rourke, Fitzmaurice confirmed that there were chants of a racial nature coming from the crowd aimed at one of his players.
The former Kerry manager said that the school had no issue with the semi-final result and that “before during and after the game, [Naas CBS] behaved in a very sporting manner.”
He said it was “important to state that there is no problem with any of the players or any of the mentors that was involved with the team.”
But Fitzmaurice stated that “unfortunately during the game there was an element of the Naas support that were chanting at one of our players and unfortunately some of those chants were of a racist nature.”
When asked about the nature of the abuse, Fitzmaurice said he did not want to go into the “exact wording that was used” but said it was “nationality-based”.
He said the chants went on for “much of the first half.”
Fitzmaurice added: “One of our teachers actually brought it to the attention of the officials at half-time and it seemed to quieten down for a bit after half-time.
“But going towards the end of the game I think it happened a couple of times again.
“Now not all of the supporters were involved in the chanting and not all of the chanting was racist but unfortunately there were some racist chants.”
Fitzmaurice told the radio show he wasn’t aware of the chants at the time as he was on the other side of the field.
He stated that he was aware of the “lively atmosphere” at the match but he stated that that would not be unusual for a schools football match.
He added: “Some of our teachers that were at the game and some of the parents, including the parents of the player involved were…they were disappointed and they were dissatisfied and they were quite unsettled with some of the behaviour on the day.”
Fitzmaurice said it was important to state that school has had many positive days out in post-primary GAA competitions but he has “never come across anything like this before.”
He said: “We’re anxious to take a strong stand. We don’t want to see this happening again. It’s not the norm and we wouldn’t like to see it becoming the norm.”
Fitzmaurice reiterated that the school had no issue with the result or the Naas players or mentors who “were very sporting”.
He said to stamp racism out education has an important part to play.
“I think particularly in a school environment you have the power to influence the students in a very positive way.
“It is about making them understand what is right, what is wrong. What is a bit of craic on the day of a game when you’re there with your school colleagues and what is acceptable and what is not.
“Unfortunately on this occasion, this behaviour was definitely past the line of acceptability.”
The issue of racism in sport has been heightened in recent weeks with a number of incidents occurring in English football.
England players were subject to racist chanting during the side’s 5-1 win over Montenegro last month.
On Monday Lancashire Police said a 20-year-old man from Sheffield had been arrested after handing himself in at Blackpool Police Station following an abusive message sent to Wigan player Nathan Byrne on Twitter on Saturday.
There was also an arrest after Derby’s 3-3 draw at Brentford where Rams midfielder Duane Holmes was the victim of alleged abuse.