This sporting life?

In the US, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick pleaded guilty last week to federal charges relating to the operation of a dogfighting ring over a month after being indicted. – he faces a possible 6 year sentence. Here the BBC claim to have evidence, to be broadcast tonight, that Tyrone GAA player, and all-Ireland medal winner, Gerard Cavlan, “is a senior figure in a dog fighting operation known as The Bulldog Sanctuary Kennels.” When previously charged with possession of a dangerous dog, to which he pleaded guilty, Cavlan’s lawyer had told the court, “Mr Cavlan has no involvement in relation to any other activities that would be illegal.” According to the latest report “The USPCA will be following up on Spotlight’s findings.”.. [not just the USPCA I’d hope – Ed] Adds Additional BBC report here Update The Panorama undercover reporter’s account is here and, for the time being, the Panorama programme can be viewed here [RealPlayer file]

, , ,

  • Deplorable things happen in woodkerne areas.

  • Bertie

    The BBC’s exposure of Gerard Cavlan, Tyrone County (aka “The Farmers’ Boys”) prompts some preliminary Questions:

    1 To PSNI/CPS – Will you now initiate proceedings against Gerard Cavlan for perjury and/or perverting the course of justice in light of the evidence given at his trial (April 2006) for possession of a dangerous dog?

    2 To: Micky Harte, Tyrone Manager:

    – What do you know about Cavlan’s dog fighting activities?
    – When did you know?
    – Are any other Players in the Tyrone Squad involved in dog fighting?
    – In light of the irrefutable evidence of Cavlan’s involvement in organised dog fighting shown in the BBC Spotlight Programme, will Tyrone GAA be taking any action against Cavlan?

  • jpeters

    what happened to my post?

  • Yokel

    Where are the animal rights extremists?

    They could sort out a few people…packages in the post and all.

    Maybe they find hassling middle aged scientists more challenging….

  • jone


    It would be difficult to sustain a prejury conviction given that he copped a plea to the offence he was charged with.

    All the other flannel was mitigation which I hope magistrates take with a large pinch of salt anyway.

  • jone

    I mean perjury.

  • jpeters


    think the only thing that the GAA have to worry about is if he has brought the organisation into disrepute an discipline him accordingly

    asking who else was aware of his crimes (if anyone else was) seems like, as it is known in legal circles, a fishing expedition

  • The World’s Gone Mad

    In a week of sportsmen behaving badly its been revealed that Australian former rugby league star Andrew Johns has been arrested in London for possession of ecstasy.,,2158467,00.html

    Recently retired, Johns is one of the biggest names in Australian sport – captain of his country and widely recognised as the greatest player of the modern game. Since his arrest was made public, he has admitted to periodically using recreational drugs throughout his career.

    The circumstances surrounding his arrest are bizarre. ‘Joey’ Johns had been in the UK to coach the Harlequins rugby union team and had spent the day drinking at the Church (famous Aussie backpacker haunt in London). An ‘unknown person’ (his claim) had given him an ecstasy tablet at the Church. He had then cadged a ride on the tube without a ticket, but had the misfortune of travelling without paying while in possession of drugs on the same weekend as the Notting Hill Carnival, when of course there is a much greater police presence throughout London’s transport network. He got busted at King’s Cross during a routine police operation, was arrested and cautioned. Since his arrest was made public, Johns has come clean that he has been regularly using ecstasy for 10 years, mostly in the off-season but also between matches. He had been drug-tested 2 or 3 times a season but never caught despite ‘some close-calls’.

    I’m not sure what is the strangest part in all this. The fact that arguably the best exponent of the oval ball in union or league was a pill-head throughout his career, the fact that he chooses to spend his time in London at a dive like the Church, or that he chooses to ride the tube without getting a ticket! To put it in context, it would be the equivalent of Brian O’Driscoll getting arrested for drugs outside some backpacker hostel in Sydney.

    There’s even an Irish angle, as Johns’ family first heard about his arrest when phoned by Brian Carney, Ireland’s World Cup winger and former team-mate of Johns at New South Wales rugby league team Newcastle Knights.

  • Dev

    Deplorable things happen in woodkerne areas.

    Posted by Ziznivy on Aug 30, 2007 @ 12:56 PM

    Deplorable things happen elsewhere also, 5 of the 15 dog fighting gangs were from Belfast, none of us ‘woodkerns’ there, now is there (apart from the Holylands obviously)?

  • gram

    Don”t knock dog fighting. At least it’s a sport shared and enjoyed by both sides of the community.

  • barnshee

    Lock this cruel person up and throw away the key

  • “none of us ‘woodkerns’ there, now is there (apart from the Holylands obviously)?”

    The latest trend sweeping the Holylands appears to be to hospitalise oneself. Apparently the more hospitalisations one achieves, the more credibility one acquires with one’s fellow kerne.

  • Rory

    These animals are mad, vicious and a threat to society and should either be put down or kept permanently in cages to protect the public.

    I refer of course to the human animals who keep, breed and fight these dogs.

    But Gram is right, it is an inter community activity and it was shoddy of you , Pete, to set up the straw dog of one man’s membership of the GAA to highlight your post.

    Must every topic you comment upon attempt to reflect badly on an aspect of nationalist life and culture, of which, I might add, dog-fighting is not one. It is a sick pastime of individuals with a seriously disturbed pscyhe, and who are found among all sections of society, but notably rural peasants, inner urban lumpen-proletariat and playboy bourgeois and decadent aristocracy. The usual suspects for all practices revolting and reactionary in other words.

  • Pete Baker

    I wasn’t going to respond to your accusation, Rory – it’s an all-too-familiar charge.. and all-too-familiarly lacking in substance – but if you re-read the original post hopefully you’ll see that mine isn’t the jaundiced eye here.

    Note, in particular, the choice I made in highlighting the guilty plea to similar charges by Atlanta Falcons quarterback, Michael Vick.

    But perhaps that’s another example of attempting “to reflect badly on an aspect of nationalist life and culture”..

    Or just highlighting the fact that some choose to hold such sportsmen up as role models by noting the facts.

    btw, I don’t hold them up as role models.

    And neither, any longer, does this journalist in the Washington Post.

  • jpeters

    just watched it on the bbc, pretty fucked up i must admit

  • Rory

    “btw, I don’t hold them up as role models.

    Why then is there the insinuation that others do, hold them up as role models, that is?

    Do you imagine that every admirer of George Best’s footballing skills was motivated to descend into alchoholism or that admirers of OJ Simpson went on to murder their former wives. Or is that you believe that soccer or American football drives men to such excesses as you slyly suggest Gaelic football might lead men towards matching fighting dogs.

    Are we to assume that your fixation with astronomy drives you to behave as a monocled, mad old queen? We don’t so assume nor is it meet of you, nor responsible, to employ innuendo in a similar vein.

    Nor does wriggling become you.

  • slug

    “Must every topic you comment upon attempt to reflect badly on an aspect of nationalist life and culture”

    Come on – the fact hes a well known sportsman who should be setting an example does add to the story.

  • Pete Baker

    And that comment, Rory, is one of the reasons why I wasn’t going to respond to your all-too-familiar and all-too-familiarly lacking in substance, accusations.

    Here’s a post – for the A C Grayling reference – to re-read before responding.

    Keeping to the actual topic would be a bonus..

  • Rory

    “Well known sportsmen”, Slug, or even those hardly known at all have no obligation, any more than any other human being, to set themselves up as exemplars of human perfection.

    It is the masters of society who would regard themselves as perfect and their slavish functionairres in politcal and journalistic life who, wishing themselves also to bask in the glory of such perfection, impose this impossible burden on sportsmen, popular entertainers and writers and the like and then have the opportunity to gloat when they fall from grace. This has the double effect, they hope, of deflecting attention from their, and their masters’, shortcomings while slyly adding claim to their, and their masters’, own perfection.

    It is not for us to wallow in such sleaziness. We have better things to do.

  • Stephen

    I feel replused at the dog fighting Panorama programme i have just watched. [edited moderator]

  • Concerned Gael

    Just thought i had to comment on tonights Spotlight and Gerard “the role model” Cavlans involvment with cruel and barbaric sports. I agree its what he does in his own time but he has dragged the Tyrone jersey well and truley through the gutter AGAIN…..he denied it the last time and got the benefit of the doubt but that has changed tonight, and has now been, by his own admission deeply involved. What with the Darren Graham fiasco of a month ago, the GAA needed a boost, now it has got a kick in the teeth after trying to build bridges. [Play the ball – edited moderator] Tyrone county board, do the right thing!

  • George

    Having just seen the programme I have to say that Cavlan was obviously the (rather nasty and pathetic) hook to sell the story rather than one the fiendish masterminds that the investigation was about.

    Aside: The presenter was too hysterical and I didn’t see the Farmer’s boys being confronted on film. I’m not surprised I might add.

    She also talked about the Republic as if it was Somalia rather than down the road and for some strange reason the graphic used was of a borderless Europe, except for one of course; Northern Ireland.

    And did you know that the All-Ireland is Gaelic football’s equivalent of the FA Cup?

  • jone

    George – what are you on about?

    He admitted setting up and running his own fighting kennels. He imported a dog from Finland for the purposes of breeding. He was hardly a bit player. If anyone is nasty and pathetic it’s him.

    The Farmers Boys were confronted on film; Barriskill had a picture of a maimed child waved in his face at the end of the Spotlight.

    And if you’re trying to explain the All Ireland to a general British audience the FA Cup seems to be a perfectly servicable comparison.

  • George

    I actually called Cavlan nasty and pathetic in my post if you care to read it again but he was merely the hook. The programme is based on information confiscated during the original case against Cavlan that ended earlier this year.

    The only thing you can say against Cavlan from this programme is that he had fighting dogs, wanted to subvert the course of justice. There is no evidence he was involved in dog fighting. (A lot of circumstantial evidence I admit but nothing firm.)

    As for your other points, firstly, the Farm Boys were not confronted on film, they were filmed secretly. Others like Dunkel and Gonzalez were confronted.

    Secondly, this programme was only on BBC NI tonight, it wasn’t “nationwide”. Granted, it may have been made in the hope of a wider UK audience which would explain a few things.

  • joeCanuck

    Being a messenger has always had certain risks.

  • McGrath

    “Must every topic you comment upon attempt to reflect badly on an aspect of nationalist life and culture, of which, I might add, dog-fighting is not one. It is a sick pastime of individuals with a seriously disturbed pscyhe, and who are found among all sections of society, but notably rural peasants, inner urban lumpen-proletariat and playboy bourgeois and decadent aristocracy. The usual suspects for all practices revolting and reactionary in other words.

    Posted by Rory on Aug 30, 2007 @ 07:08 PM”

    Now now Rory, the point here is Micheal Vic has been suspended from the NFL, and Gerard Cavlan has not been suspended (yet) from the GAA for largely the same offense.

    Its plebs that Pete dislikes, as far as I know Micheal Vic is not a Taig.

  • jone


    You are plain, flat out wrong.

    Let me make this simple.

    On BBC NI there was a Spotlight from 9 til 10. That was followed by Panorama after the 10pm news.

    On the Network BBC there was just the Panorama which ran from 9 til 10.

    Barriskill, the Farmers Boys chief, was doorstepped at length at the end of the Spotlight. There was also an attempt to doorstep Hammy, one of his underlings.

    And your attempt to minimise Cavlan’s role strikes me as risible.

  • These people are complete sickos.

    Anyone who can breed, rare, and train dogs to fight to the death in the name of entertainment and ‘sport’ are one step below murderers in my opinion.

    Of all the things to be involved in as a hobby. Particularly harrowing was the fact that these people kill any dogs that wont/can’t fight and as for Mr Gonzalez electrocuting one of his dogs, then taking it into the house to finish the job, what can you say…

    I do believe these people are capable of anything..

    Hope they now get prosecuted appropriately..

  • joeCanuck

    That certainly would be nice SV1 but the TV program would probably be inadmissable as “evidence”.
    Still, the PSNI, as well as the USPCA, now know where to look.
    So here’s hoping.

  • Cromwell


    Just to correct one of your earlier comments, you said that Ger Cavlan had no connection with actual dog fighting, he stated in the programme that he “put down” any dogs over the age of 15 months that showed no interest in fighting.

    He’s being singled out because he is well known, is no more or less guilty than any of the rest of the scumbags involved in this & lets hope, if found guilty, they are made an example of.

  • Lafcadio

    I live in London, and the panorama show was on this story last night (although I haven’t watched it yet).

    This thread is kind of descending into a parody of slugger in microcosm, with a local story (within a highly topical global context) descending into laughable allegations of attempting to discredit (in this case)cathlicks/GAA/nationalists etc etc – seriously, get over yourselves

    I’ve just come back from NY and the Vick story is absolutely huge, and all over the media – and since his guilty plea, the place is rife with speculation that he’s cooked up a deal to give up other footballers involved in a wider-ranging sub-culture of dog-fighting than is known about at the minute. That this has somehow become an apparently pretty widespread phenomonen in some parts of societies across the world is pretty shocking, to me at any rate, and if the BBC has managed to evidence some of it in the UK and Ireland, all the better. Hopefully the full weight of the law will be brought to bear on all participants.

  • George

    I said there is no evidence presented in the programme, not that he had no connection with dog fighting.

    Maybe there is other stuff for the police to put together a case.

    None of the good coverage of the fighting dogs involved Cavlan. He was not present at any of it and there is nothing in that programme linking him to it.

    If you ask me if I think he is involved in dog fighting my answer would be yes.

    All the information that the programme got on the fighting dogs came from the raid on Cavlan’s house.

    But, basically, as all of this came out in his court case last April there is nothing new in the public domain here regarding Cavlan except his admission that he contemplated the idea of perverting the course of justice by stealing his dog back.

    And that he puts down dogs. As I said, a lot of circumstantial evidence but not enough, in my humble view, for a criminal conviction.

    I have all the BBCs and the only one it was on at the time was BBC NI. Didn’t occur to me that it might have run earlier on the other BBCs as usually it’s the other way around.

  • Lafcadio

    I’ve just read the Post article Pete linked, and it’s interesting – Vick’s statement got, I’d say, a pretty positive reception, mostly from the sports journos (white and black) who seemed to be more inclined to want to talk about second chances and stuff (despite the supposedly spontaneous statement smacking of typical re-hashed boilerplate waffle about bad decisions, having to grow up etc etc).

    but what interested me more than anything (this was my first time proper in the USA, other than simply passing through) was the absolute obsession that everyone seemed to have about race – everything seemed to be viewed through the prism of skin colour. The first question on most of the news broadcasts was inevitably a variation on “do you think there will be perceived to be a racial element to this?” – to which the obvious answer seemed to me to be “no, if the media would only shut the f#@k up asking that question!!”

  • Cromwell


    Sorry, but that just sounds like you are making excuses for him, this is’nt a court so he’s not being convicted of anything, but he did himself no favours by some of his comments & behaviour in the programme.

  • George

    I don’t like what I am saying either but this is my reading of the situation. I am not making excuses for Cavlan, I am pointing out that there doesn’t appear to be enough evidence for a criminal prosecution.

    I would be more than happy for you to prove me wrong on this because, as I have said earlier, I do “think” he is involved in this sordid business.

    But opinion without facts is just that: opinion.

    You can’t ask for a person to be punished merely because in your opinion he deserves it.

  • beancounter

    Always wondered why Cavlan preferred the “kennel end” at Croker.
    George, the Farmer Boys were confronted on film, Barriscale and Hamill. Also the Panorama programme which followed,and which went out nationwide, was presented by Mandy McAuley and used much of the footage from Spotlight.
    Cavlan is obviously a scumbag but it is plainly ridiculous to drag the GAA into this affair.
    I seem to recall at least one member of a famous East Belfast soccer club appearing in court on charges more serious than those Cavlan stands accused of. No questions were asked as to whether the club or fellow players supported these activities. And rightly so

  • flaminglip

    GAA star this, GAA star that, pity they won’t bloody show a bit of the actual sport on the BBC. I guess it doesn’t count as a sport unless there’s some guy receiving sectarian abuse, or some guy involved in dogfighting. Something like the Sun practically boycotts GAA, but suddenly Ger Cavlan is on the front page two days in a row-GAA SHAME etc. Load of crap. If the GAA is so unimportant then why is it suddenly relevant when someone who plays it does something wrong. I don’t condone what Cavlan did at all, it’s wrong, but the GAA coverage is crap and it irks me.

  • seany

    why the censorship with my post big brother.

  • seany

    How can we trust anything we see on TV anymore with so much news, and documentaries being faked and biased, and idiots like the presenter of the programme making absolute nonsensical claims that the all Ireland [edited moderator] final is the equivalent to a FA cup final, i am convinced the programme makers set out with a hidden agenda to discredit the GAA.

  • jone

    “i am convinced the programme makers set out with a hidden agenda to discredit the GAA.”

    *rolls eyes*

    Riddle me this Seany, how else would you describe the All Ireland final to a British audience who wouldn’t know Croker from a hole in the ground?