GAA Linesmen and fourth officials have been told to be extremely vigilant in policing “lawless” sidelines after a spate of incidents this month.
The substitution incidents in the Laois-Armagh and Donegal-Monaghan matches aside, as part of a crackdown the GAA have instructed match officials to bring order to the areas populated by the respective managements, backroom team members and substitutes.
One senior GAA figure described the sideline as “lawless” in some games. In the closing stages of last Saturday’s Ulster semi-final in Cavan, there were heated exchanges between members of the Donegal and Monaghan camps, while there have been some flashpoints in other championship matches.
It is believed the large number of bodies on the sideline led to the confusion that precipitated Laois using a seventh substitute in Portlaoise last Saturday as well as Donegal having 15 men on the pitch when they should have had 14 for a short period last Saturday. As a means of tidying up the technical areas, match officials have been reminded to report any incident that they would deem as constituting unacceptable behaviour.
In this year’s drawn Division 1 hurling final between Clare and Waterford in Thurles, Davy Fitzgerald and Dónal Óg Cusack rowed with Derek McGrath and Dan Shanahan. In February’s All-Ireland club SFC semi-final between Castlebar Mitchels and Crossmaglen Rangers, players and backroom team members clashed as the Armagh side attempted to take a quick sideline. In 2012, then GAA president Liam O’Neill introduced alterations to sideline protocols in an attempt to depopulate the areas, reducing the numbers from 12 to five. That measure was strongly opposition by the likes of Kerry’s Éamonn Fitzmaurice and Kilkenny manager Brian Cody.
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