Provincial pitch invasions next to be hit

GAA chiefs are set to turntheir attention towards tackling pitch invasions after provincial championship matches, following the success ofSunday’s post-match All-Ireland hurling final celebrations in Croke Park.

President Christy Cooney yesterday revealed that it will be a priority next summer to end the practice of fans encroaching onto pitches around the country and also that the erection of the barrier at the Hill 16 end was critical to the success on Sunday.

“We will be looking now at the provincial grounds and how we can manage that, to move it forward. We said we would start in Croke Park and try to develop it there. The barrier helped enormously on Sunday and I think people respected that as well because we had very few people who tried to get over it.

” The fans were brilliant, we asked them to stay off the pitch and they honoured that. We had one person who tried to jump (the fence) and the Gardaí arrested him, and anyone else who wanted to jump was told they would be arrested as well.

“From the people I met, there was absolutely no negativity about it. The PRO of Tipperary told me their players were very pleased with it.

Cooney insisted there was no increase in the number of stewards employed on the day and instead there were spread more evenly around the pitch rather than being concentrated at the Hill 16 end.

“We didn’t increase stewarding at all, at any stage. We just used them in different areas of the pitch. We used more around the perimeter because we didn’t need the same volume of stewards at the Hill end. This is a process of education. We’ll run with it next year again, and after a period of time we’ll hope that eventually we’ll educate people enough so that we can get rid of the barriers, reduce the number of stewards we have and people can come and enjoy the day and not invade the pitch.”

Cooney also stated that the presentation of trophies will continue to take place in the Hogan Stand rather than on the pitch and that the abolition of speeches by winning minor captains helps ease the pressure on those players.

“The senior situation with the speech is a bit different, the minor is more challenging. You get some very good minors captains who are good at public speaking but some who are not so good. It puts a lot of pressure on under-age players to make a speech in front of 82,000 people.

Meanwhile Cooney expressed his support for GAA umpires despite a spate of controversial incidents in last Sunday week’s All-Ireland semi-final between Kildare and Down.

“Everybody would accept that the goal was a square goal, but in fairness to Pat McEnaneny and his umpires, they got the call wrong. They probably got the call wrong with the steps taken before the Kildare goal as well. You’ll always get mistakes, but by and large the referees and umpires do a very good job.”


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