The damage done to pitches by the intensity of warm-ups has the potential to cause serious injury, claims Munster GAA grounds safety committee chairman Kieran McGann.
In his report to Friday’s convention, the Castlelyons man says the frenzied nature of pre-game preparations has caused difficulties for groundsmen.
“It is appreciated that warm-up routine is recognised as a most important part of the physical and mental preparation of the players preparation for the game,” McGann acknowledges.
“However, physical trainers are coming out early setting up an array of bollards and mini goalposts, often around the main goals. These bollards and mini goalposts in a closed boundary involve over 60 players in the pitch engaging in ‘fast feet’ and ‘rucking style’ mini games as they turn in fast sprints, huddle for the ‘dirty ball’ and tear up divots in two small, confined areas of the pitch.
“Due to the severity of this power style of close-up training, there is a propensity for serious immediate and, indeed, long- term damage to the pitch.
“The follow-on of this is a safety hazard for players during the game and the propensity for a player to pull up with a knee injury in slip or uneven ground as it is impossible for groundsmen to repair or replace this type of pitch damage immediately.”
McGann admits there have been disagreements between ground staff and team managements regarding the extent of warm-ups.
“Ad hoc orders are often given to stewards by grounds management and those in charge not to allow rough warm-ups and/or to stop it by removing the bollards, etc., and this can cause uproar with the team officials,” he reveals.
“In some cases where bollards are removed, bottles and tracksuit tops are immediately put in place.”
McGann’s committee propose devising a list do’s and don’ts for warm-ups and fines be handed down should they not be heeded.
“Should there be a deliberate non-compliance with the clár an lae, the match monitor should bring such breaches and evidence of such damage to the notice of the fourth official who will report on same.”