Monday 25 September 2017

New protocols here to stay as GAA bids to put an end to tunnel trouble

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Players and management will continue to be asked to observe new protocols when it comes to leaving the field at half-time during future championship matches, it was confirmed yesterday.

The Ulster and Munster Council have adopted policies of asking one team to remain out on the field until the other team has left for their dressing-rooms to avoid any potential flashpoints.

And on Sunday teams involved in the Leinster semi-finals observed those protocols too.

Meath gathered together until Kildare disappeared down the tunnel beneath the Cusack Stand, while Dublin did similar to allow Wexford leave in the second match.

In the Ulster semi-final in Clones on Saturday evening, Tyrone did the honours as Donegal left.

"Munster and Ulster started with this and we'll hope to continue it on during the qualifiers," said the GAA's director of games administration Fergal McGill yesterday. "It avoids any potential for conflict. In fairness it hasn't happened much considering the amount of games played. But half-time can be an emotive and highly charged time in some cases.

"It's a policy we couldn't hope to have in place unless we have the co-operation of players and management."

No penalties are likely to occur for teams who fail to observe the new guidelines, unless of course altercations develop. Teams have been nominated in advance during the week and asked to go out first and then remain on the field.

There were flashpoints during a league match earlier this year when Monaghan and Kildare met, and a brawl which began just before half-time sparked further confrontation in the tunnel.

The highest-profile 'tunnel incident' in recent years preceded the Munster SHC quarter-final between Clare and Cork in 2007 when fighting broke out as the players came out on to the field.

Cork won but bans for Donal Og Cusack, Sean Og O hAilpin and Diarmuid O'Sullivan cost them in the semi-final against Waterford.

Irish Independent

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