Offaly defend gumshield block
Offaly chairman Pat Teehan has defended his county's decision to block the introduction of compulsory gumshields at Congress last weekend, writes Cliona Foley.
The Gaelic Players' Association (GPA) have given the lead on this safety issue and announced yesterday that they have just completed the distribution of custom-fitted mouthguards to every inter-county squad in the country.
So there was some surprise when several counties, including Offaly and Dublin, opposed a motion last weekend to make them compulsory.
"We're not against gumshields, per se, of course not, but we feel there's no point in bringing in a rule that you can't implement," Teehan said. "The costs haven't been established yet, issues were raised about what would happen for people who had braces or medical reasons for not wearing one and even who would police it. Would referees have to inspect every player?
"If a child forgets his helmet there's usually a spare one he can borrow, but would he be forced to wear someone else's gumshield?
"The proposal was to make them compulsory from next January but very few underage players already wear them. This is very different from the introduction of helmets, which were already in widespread use and brought in on a staggered basis at different age-groups.
"We felt all of these issues needed to be worked out first and it has been referred to back to the Medical Advisory Committee."
The GPA said yesterday they have distributed free gumshields -- through Sportsguard and Sporting Smiles -- to close on 900 inter-county players.
"For safety reasons we are encouraging everyone to wear one and the feedback from county players has been extremely positive," a spokesman said.