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"He's a big boy" | Joe Brolly unsurprised by James McClean abuse

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

13:43 6 Mar 2021

Former Derry footballer and GAA analyst Joe Brolly is not surprised by the abuse targeted at James McClean, but believes the Republic of Ireland international is capable of dealing with it effectively. 

Alongside Declan Bonner and James McCartan on an Ulster football Saturday Panel special, Brolly admitted that he has not been surprised at how his fellow Derry native is routinely treated.

"He's a Derry republican and he has made no bones about that," stated Brolly. "He has decided to wear his colours on his sleeve... When you step out like he has, when you say anything nowadays, there's going to be a backlash.

"Obviously, he doesn't deserve the level of abuse that's there, but once you're a high-profile person you just learn to filter it out."

Since departing Derry City for Sunderland in 2011, James McClean has been living and working as a professional footballer in England.

The target of frequent abuse online and in person throughout most of his time there, he recently spoke to OTB AM of how this has shown no sign of halting.

Indeed, as McClean explained to OTB Sports, it is becoming increasingly common that people will threaten not only him but his family and young children on a regular basis.

One motivating factor behind the indefensible abuse is McClean's refusal to wear a remembrance poppy on his football jersey during the month of November every season.

A personal decision that the Irish international has previously went to great lengths in explaining, Brolly, born two decades earlier than McClean in Derry, discussed the political environment that the Stoke City winger was raised within.

"Anybody who grew up during James's era in Derry is very likely to have very anti-establishment tendencies," he suggested. "Don't forget, the cradle of the civil rights movement was gerrymandering in places like Derry city, depriving many people in poor Catholic areas of the vote.

"These are things that young people nowadays would be stunned to learn about. So, there's nothing surprising about James being forthright about his views."

Although James McClean has recently received significant public and institutional support, it would appear unlikely that the abuse and threats will stop any time soon.

"Filter it out or else stop doing it, get off social media and don't make appearances," was how Brolly summed up McClean's options. "Once you can see it for what it is then you can handle it easily enough. He's a big boy."

You can watch back Joe Brolly, James McCartan and Declan Bonner talking Ulster football in full here

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Derry Ireland James Mcclean Joe Brolly Republic Of Ireland

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