Kilkenny criticism forces HQ to defend new rule

GAA officials have reacted to Kilkenny’s strong criticism of the new sideline regulations, pointing to the successful implementation of those rules in the National Football League and rejecting suggestions there had not been consultation on the matter, stating that “consultation does not constitute a veto.”

The new regulations reduce the number of backroom staff on the sidelines for inter-county games from twelve to five per team, and Kilkenny senior hurling selector Martin Fogarty issued a hard-hitting statement to the Irish Examiner for publication yesterday, likening the decision to introduce the new rules in the GAA to “dictatorship”.

Fogarty said in his statement: “Recently we have seen various members of team managements speaking out against the new match regulations while it appears that their elected delegates to central council either voted in favour of the regulations or did not speak out against them.

“What is going on? Where is the consultation even within counties?”

He also described recent comments by GAA president Liam O’Neill as “outrageous“, adding that O’Neill was “sticking the boot in at every opportunity”.

Yesterday, however, Croke Park responded strongly to the criticism, though sources within GAA headquarters wouldn’t be drawn on the possible sanctions Kilkenny might face if they contravene the regulations this season.

“First, the pitchside regulations are a matter for Central Council,” said a Croke Park source.

“At its last meeting Central Council chose not to change those regulations.

“Regarding the point about consultation or lack of same, the GAA is happy to consult its members on matters which affect them. We did and do consult on a regular basis.

“However, the point is worth making that consultation does not constitute a veto. GAA members should realise that even when some people disagree with a rule; they need to realise it’s all about striking a balance.”

Kilkenny are not the only county to indicate they may contravene the rules when they take the field.

“There are provisions in the rules and regulations to cover all the eventualities which may arise,” said the Croke Park source. “But it’s worth pointing out that the early games in the National Football League have passed off almost entirely without incident in this regard. If something arises when the hurling league starts next weekend then Central Council will respond accordingly.

“At the end of the day, it’s what’s out on the field that counts. That’s what people are interested in.”

Fogarty’s comments echo those of manager Brian Cody last week, when he described the new provision as a “bad, bad rule”.

Cody went on to say of the new rule: “It is of course going to impact on us, something I would be massively disappointed with. What are we talking about here, that people are saying that we have to ‘clean up the sideline’? It’s not as if there have been massive problems in our association over the years. Where has it all gone wrong over the years?

“I’ve never heard such negative comment from within the association about the association. I don’t understand it. To say we’re going to clean up the sideline... from what?”

Kilkenny open their league title defence in Galway this Sunday in Division 1A. The Kilkenny County Board had no comment to make last evening on the matter.

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