Spotlight on sideline numbers as chiefs probe semi-final row
The GAA's Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) are to investigate the sideline altercation which disrupted the tense concluding stages of Saturday night's AIB All-Ireland club football semi-final in Kingspan Breffni Park.
Tensions spilled over when attempts by Crossmaglen Rangers to take a quick sideline in front of the Castlebar dug-out appeared to be thwarted by Castlebar, prompting players and members of the backroom team to clash in a number of angry exchanges.
What is sure to also interest the disciplinary body is the numbers who were standing on the sidelines close to the Castlebar dug-out where the sideline was due to be taken from, and the extent to which this was a factor in how this incident developed. The GAA made significant changes to the sideline protocols in late 2012 under the direction of then president Liam O'Neill.
The numbers subsequently permitted dropped from 12 to five and that caused outrage among high-profile figures like Kilkenny manager Brian Cody and his then selector Martin Fogarty, while Gaelic games doctors also spoke out on the new regulations that restricted those with access to a manager, selector, two water carriers and one member of the medical team.
Those regulations still stand but some GAA grounds have adapted to allow members of the extended backroom teams to sit close to the manager (bainisteoir) and selector (maor foirine).
In Croke Park, for example, three seats - for the manager, selector and one medic - are set out on the sideline, with four more seats in a walled enclosure that is part of the front row of the Hogan Stand directly behind them, allowing easy communications.
The rest of the backroom teams sit among the substitutes further back in the stand.
In grounds where there is no designated area recessed in the stand, members of management can sit in pitch-side dug-outs which are considered designated areas.
Kingspan Breffni Park is one of the better grounds to accommodate this arrangement with the designated area positioned right behind the dug-outs.
However, it must be acknowledged that it is very difficult for local stewards to be constantly policing the flow of personnel between the sideline and the designated areas.
Consequently, away from Croke Park especially, the regulations appear to have become more relaxed.
The interruption in play broke Crossmaglen momentum as they went in search of an equaliser in added time.
Joint-manager Oisin McConville felt the ball should have been quickly moved up away from the Castlebar dug-out area to allow play to recommence much quicker.
"Whatever happens we'll just take it on the chin and move on. All we wanted was the ball," he said yesterday.
McConville didn't draw on criticism of referee Eddie Kinsella's performance as a comfort to defeat.
"There were a couple of incidents at the end of the game when we should have got frees and we didn't," he said.
McConville and John McEntee are to discuss their futures with the club executive tonight, having served for two years.
"We didn't have a time, we're meeting the club later today. I don't really know. You feel as if you haven't done enough to get them over the line and that there is some unfinished business," said McConville. "We said we'd go away and think about it. We'll get it done and dusted quickly ."