Laois GAA will launch a crackdown on what it says are children “going wild” in O’Moore Park when games are hosted at the venue.
County Board Development Officer Tom Jones, who is also Event Controller for the ground, said the issue or children roaming free in the county grounds came to a head over the weekend, when a group of youths were caught fighting and “leathering” each other with hurls.
There is also a health and safety concern with children accessing the pitch before games and at half time, when senior teams are warming up and either pucking sliotars or kicking footballs.
Addressing Monday night’s county board meeting, Tom Jones said children would not be allowed into the grounds without adult supervision. “Children were going wild in O’Moore Park yesterday. From now on, any child entering O’Moore Park must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or responsible adult.
“Yesterday (Sunday) we had a group of 12 and 13 year olds fighting and leathering each other with hurls. Children will have to be supervised because they will not be allowed to run through the stand any more.”
Jones also said they were looking into the prospect of banning children from bringing hurls into the county grounds, as many were using them to beat seats, while others were hitting balls high into the stand from ground level.
Castletown-Slieve Bloom delegate Monica Delaney confirmed she had been hit in the face by a sliotar which had been hit into the stand by a child.
Rathdowney-Errill’s delegate, Michael Fitzpatrick, also highlighted the problems his club faced on Sunday before their county semi-final against The Harps, when he told the meeting that the senior team didn’t have room to warm up due to the amount of children on the field.
Andrew Broderick, who works on the gate at O’Moore Park, said there will be a serious incident some day as young children were being allowed to wander out close to Fr Browne Avenue without adult supervision when the gates were left open at the end of games, and with the volume of traffic on the road, he felt it was only a matter of time before an accident occurred.
Delegates agreed that something needed to be done to tackle the issue, although doubts were cast as to just how the county board can police the situation. The prospect of Go Games at half time was also mooted in a bid to keep children off the field.