Managers face sideline bans

GAA top brass deny that the new penalty for criticism of match officials stems from Brian Cody’s attack on referee Barry Kelly.

The Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC), arising from Saturday’s Central Council meeting, now holds the power to impose sideline bans on team officials who make derogatory comments in relation to referees prior to a game or during post-match interviews.

The previous penalty of an eight-week suspension still stands; the GAA’s head of games administration, Fergal McGill, yesterday commenting that the removal of sideline privileges is a “more appropriate games-based sanction”.

GAA hierarchy last month refused to chastise All-Ireland winning manager Brian Cody for his scathing outburst on Barry Kelly. The Kilkenny boss described Kelly’s decision to award an injury-time free to Tipperary in the drawn All-Ireland hurling final as “criminal”.

“You don’t hand a team a free puck and say ‘lads, there you go’. It was like that,” he told print journalists the morning after their replay win.

Cody escaped punishment by the CCCC and McGill is adamant the introduction of the sideline ban was not influenced by his remarks.

“It has nothing to do with Brian Cody or his comments in the aftermath of the final replay,” stressed McGill.

“It was decided the removal of sideline privileges would be on the agenda at Saturday’s Central Council meeting when potential games-based penalties were looked at during the summer.

“At the moment the only penalty available to team officials when they criticise referees is an eight-week suspension. That can be very uneven in so far as a team official could criticise a match official in June, be handed an eight-week suspension as a result and then miss the entire championship. We felt a games-based suspension would be more appropriate and that is what you have here. This penalty applies only to managers and their backroom team.”

Referees chief Pat McEnaney last night welcomed the move, optimistic it will stamp out pre-match comments designed to influence the man in the middle.

“One would definitely hope this will reduce the week-in, week-out criticism of referees. One would particularly hope it would end the practice of managers making comments about referees and the opposition before matches, trying to influence referees, that under hand kind of stuff. Hopefully this new deterrent will cut all that out. Is it strong enough is the question. Only time will tell.”

McGill is adamant the change to match regulations will not lead to closer study of post-match interviews given by inter-county managers.

“The same levels of scrutiny that are there at present will continue. Nothing has changed in that regard. We saw fit to introduce a more appropriate penalty and this is what was agreed at Saturday’s meeting. This will come into effect from January 1.”

Central Council, in an attempt to end the practice of dummy teams, will bring a motion to Congress next February requiring all counties to submit a panel of 26 players on the Thursday morning before a championship fixture. The sanction for togging a player not submitted on the registered list is forfeiture of game.

“It frees up panel players to play league games with their clubs if not part of the 26,” continued McGill.

“At the moment you have supplementary players to the squad of 26, there is no guarantee they will be involved on the Sunday of a game but neither is there a guarantee they won’t. From Thursday onwards on the week of a game, supplementary players will know or not if they are involved at the weekend and will know if they are free to line out with their clubs. This applies for senior inter-county championship only.

“The motion to Congress that a county submit their starting team to the referee at least 20 minutes before throw-in is so to make it easier for everyone. It is to formalise when teams have to be announced on match-day.”

He added: “It was also agreed that Hawk Eye should become a permanent fixture. We will certainly look at the practicalities of having it in Thurles because of the simple fact that Thurles hosts games in the All-Ireland series, namely the All-Ireland hurling quarter-finals. There is no time frame for rolling it out in Thurles. It will depend on the availability of finances.”

Meanwhile, the national hurling and camogie development centre is to be located at WIT’s sports campus at Carriganore. The centre will focus on the development at child, youth and minor age-grades. Plans are currently being progressed to bring the centre up to full operational capacity.


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