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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Staff reporter

Mayo star opens up on vicious abuse after 2016 All-Ireland final loss to Dublin

Mayo goalkeeper Rob Hennelly has opened up on the horrendous abuse he suffered in the wake of the 2016 All-Ireland final defeat.

In his first in-depth interview in eight years, Rob Hennelly talks about the aftermath of conceding a penalty and receiving a black card in the 2016 All-Ireland final replay against Dublin.

Tonight, RTÉ Prime Time examines abuse towards GAA players, commentators and referees from online trolls.

Read next: RTE GAA pundit Ursula Jacob hits out at personal abuse aimed at her after Clare vs Kilkenny game

“I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” Rob Hennelly told Prime Time of the abuse after the one point defeat. "I’ve had stuff that I wouldn’t repeat said about me…you'd wonder how people even think of saying those things it's that kind of outrageous."

In tonight’s programme the intercounty goalkeeper will describe how the agony of coming to terms with a one-point defeat to Dublin, as Mayo were bidding for their first title in 65 years, was compounded by social media abuse.

“The conversations become very often, very personalised and probably due to the lack of regulation on Twitter and stuff. It's very anonymous as well. So, people get away with a lot on these platforms and as such, it becomes quite a dark place from time to time in relation to GAA," he said.

Mayo's Rob Hennelly talks to RTÉ Prime Time (RTÉ Prime Time)

“From the experiences I have had of abuse online, it’s not something that I like to talk about that much now and it's more so because it’s something I've dealt with it, I put it in its place, but that's said at the time it was something I found very difficult to deal with.

After online attacks in 2016 Rob Hennelly restricted his use of social media.

"It’s kind of something that that I’ve detached myself from a lot because it offers very little to you as a player, whether it's positive or negative feedback.

“I realise that I just can’t control it. It doesn’t add anything to my life and as much as possible I cut it out,” he added.

GAA President Larry McCarthy also spoke to Prime Time about his concerns.

“I’m worried about the abuse that people take and get as members of the GAA," he said.

“There's a broader problem here. Will people continue to volunteer for a voluntary sports organization if this level of abuse continues? Logically, you would say no, and it's going to impinge on our ability to deliver hurling and football in clubs around the country. ”

Wexford camogie legend and RTÉ pundit Ursula Jacob and hurling referee James Owens will also share about their experiences of online abuse.

‘Blood, sweat and online smears’ by reporter Conor McMorrow and producer Lucinda Glynn will feature on Prime Time tonight (Thursday) at 9.35pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ player.


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