Kilcoo fan handed life ban from GAA after racist abuse incidents

Crossmaglen Rangers player Aaron Cunningham

A Kilcoo fan has received a life ban from the GAA arising from the alleged racial abuse of Crossmaglen's Aaron Cunningham in last month's Ulster Club Football final, BBC Sport understands.

A second Kilcoo supporter is also believed to being investigated by the GAA over the racial abuse allegations.

The Ulster Council has refused to comment on the latest developments.

Kilcoo player Aidan Branagan was banned for four months arising from the controversy and this may be appealed.

Cunningham alleged he was racially abused by two Kilcoo players during the provincial final and subsequent to that Branagan and his brother Daryl were handed out suspensions understood to be six and four months respectively.

Following appeals, Daryl Branagan's suspension was subsequently overturned with Aidan Branagan's reduced to four months.

It is thought that the Kilcoo club is considering appealing against Aidan Branagan's remaining ban to Croke Park's Central Hearings Committee.

Aaron Cunningham's father, former Crossmaglen and Armagh player Joey Cunningham, made clear his anger last week amid the reports that the bans imposed arising from the game had been reduced.

"I would like to ask the question why the six months (ban) was rounded down to four months," Cunningham told BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme.

"For them to round it down to four months makes a mockery of this issue that they are trying to sort out."

Mr Cunningham played GAA for Crossmaglen and Armagh and Irish League football for Portadown during the 1980s and early 1990s, and said that he received racial abuse every week in his soccer career.

"This verdict is really, really disappointing from my point of view. The Ulster Council made all the right noises and said all the right things after this happened so what I'm hearing at the moment is very disappointing."

Crossmaglen player Cunningham told the match referee during the Ulster Club Final that he was being racially abused and spoke about the issue during media interviews after the game.

The Crossmaglen player said that the "n-word" had been used during the game.

Following Cunningham's allegations, Ulster GAA president Aogan O Fearghaill said that anyone found guilty of racism would be dealt with "as severely as possible".

The GAA is to discuss how to deal with racism at its annual congress in March.

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