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Coughing in face a red card offence and maximum 500 fans - Guidelines for return of Gaelic Games revealed


Paul Gallagher, team offical, sanitizing the balls before a Glenswilly GAA Club training session at Glenkerragh in Donegal

Paul Gallagher, team offical, sanitizing the balls before a Glenswilly GAA Club training session at Glenkerragh in Donegal

Paul Gallagher, team offical, sanitizing the balls before a Glenswilly GAA Club training session at Glenkerragh in Donegal

Deliberately coughing in the face of an opponent will be considered as behaving in a way that is dangerous and will warrant a red card and a one-match ban, new match regulations circulated to all GAA clubs ahead of the return to competitive action next week have outlined.

Ordinarily, such an action would not have been dealt with by the force of rule 5.19 of part two of the Official Guide which covers dangerous behaviour pre-Covid, but the dangers of transmission have prompted the GAA to spell out the consequences if a player is found to have deliberately coughed in the face of an opponent. And referees have been instructed to deal with it in this manner.

Spitting at any stage is prohibited, while spitting at an opponent will be dealt with, as per rule, by red card and a one-match ban. Handshakes are also prohibited, while team huddles can only take place if proper social distancing is being observed.

The GAA will introduce two water breaks, one in each half, with a one-minute break in play between the 15th and 20th minute during a break in play at the referee’s discretion allowing players to move towards their team zone and drink from their own clearly labelled water bottles. The regular maor uisce service will not be allowed.

A maximum of 24 players and five officials – seven in hurling when two maor camán are included – will be allowed inside the perimeter for games. The rest of a squad can take their places in the stand or outside the perimeter but can trade places with those inside, as long as the limit does not exceed 24.

The five officials will be the manager, maor foirne, two medics, physio and one club official. All other members of team management will have to take their place outside the perimeter.

Dugouts are being discouraged and will only be in use if social distancing protocols of two metres can be applied, a most unlikely provision in many club grounds.

Clubs are being asked to make alternative provisions for substitutes with teams based on opposite sides of the field where possible.

Meanwhile, a third west Cork club has suspended activities as a precaution following contact between two players from two west Cork clubs with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19 in recent days.

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Argideen Rangers and Ballinascarthy had both issued statements in relation to contact with their players and now St Oliver Plunkett’s have taken the same course of action.

“Our club has decided to suspend all activity effective immediately and until the officers and coaches review the matter. We do not take this decision lightly and do so as a preventive and precautionary measure, demonstrating responsibility and care for our community, and setting the best example we can for club members and the wider public,” a statement read.

“As we are a close-knit community with brothers and sisters spread across many teams, parents and more involved across all levels of our games, we are endeavouring to reduce any potential risk.”

The GAA is expected to update their advice to county officials on the definition of contacts, close and casual, in the coming days.

The 15 main guidelines for the return of Gaelic Games

■ Squads limited to 24 inside the perimeter (no limit on squad sizes otherwise)

■ Management limited to five – manager, maor foirne, two medics, club official (hurling can have two maor camán, so seven in total)

■ Substitutes and team officials to be positioned on opposite sides of the field where possible

■ No water carriers

■ One one-minute water break in each half, lasting a minute and called during a break in play between the 15th-20th minute at a time of the referee’s discretion

■ Dugout use not recommended unless social distancing (two metres) can be observed

■ No handshaking

■ No huddles unless social distancing can be observed

■ No spitting

■ Deliberate coughing into the face of an opponent to be punishable under dangerous behaviour rule

■ All-ticket games for attendances over an expected 200

■ Games capped at attendance capacity of 500, a figure that will include players, match officials, management, stewards, media and contractors

■ Face masks for spectators are recommended

■ Spectators are urged to bring their own sanitiser

■ Ground management responsible for contacts of players and management; spectators responsible for their contact record

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