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Davy Fitzgerald-Jason Forde clash still making waves

Fallout from league semi-final row could lead to rule changes

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald and Jason Forde of Tipperary clash during their NHL Division 1 semi-final last year. Photo: Sportsfile
Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald and Jason Forde of Tipperary clash during their NHL Division 1 semi-final last year. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The fallout from the clash between Davy Fitzgerald and Jason Forde during the Allianz hurling League semi-final last April has continued into this year and could lead to two rule changes.

The Wexford manager was banned for eight weeks under the rule dealing with "any type of physical interference with an opposing player or team official", while the Tipperary midfielder incurred a two-match ban for "any type of assault on an opposing team official." Fitzgerald accepted the suspension and was in the stands for Wexford's first two Leinster Championship games against Laois and Kilkenny.

Forde fought the case vigorously and had his suspension reduced to one game under a different charge of contributing to a melee. Fitzgerald later admitted that he had run on to the pitch to "lift my lads a small little bit". Tipperary felt aggrieved over Forde's ban under a number of headings.

Interference

They were unhappy that he was charged under the 'assault' rule, which was later changed to 'contributing to a melee'. The suspension ruled him out of the Munster quarter-final clash with Cork, which Tipperary lost.

Now, both Tipperary and the GAA's Central Council are to bring motions to Congress on Saturday fortnight, seeking to clarify the rules pertaining to these type of offences.

Central Council want players deemed guilty of 'minor physical interference with an opposing team official' suspended for one match. Tipperary want a melee to be defined as 'a minimum of five persons'.

"It's very frustrating and disappointing to lose a disciplinary hearing, especially when you see similar incidents in every game not being investigated.

"I still believe that Jason Forde was just guilty by association in an incident that receive widespread publicity because of the high profile of the one of the personalities involved," wrote Tipperary secretary Tim Floyd in his annual report.

Central Council have 15 motions on the Congress agenda, but since most of them deal with minor technicalities, they will not resonate with the public.

Their highest profile call is for a ban on betting companies sponsoring competitions, teams, playing gear or facilities. It is likely to be passed by a landslide majority. Last year's Congress voted to outlaw gambling by players and officials in games where they were involved.

Wexford will propose a motion, which has come from the Club Players' Association (CPA), calling for transparency in how delegates vote at Congress.

They want each delegate's vote displayed and published in subsequent minutes. Former Wexford manager Liam Griffin, a leading member of the CPA, will be the main speaker in favour of the proposal. The CPA argue that democracy is being undermined by the current system, where only the overall result is shown.

Since voting is carried out electronically, using hand-held devices, there is no way of knowing if delegates adhere to their counties' mandates.

The system was introduced some years ago to replace the traditional 'show of hands'.

Transparency

And while it's a more efficient means of conducting the process, it has removed transparency.

Offaly want the All-Ireland U-21 hurling championships replaced with a U-20 competition, similar to what applies in football from this year on.

Wexford are proposing that only those who play, as opposed to being on the panel, for the U-20 football championship be barred from lining out in the senior championship.

Under the existing rule, any player whose name appears on the squad list for the U-20 championship, cannot play for the senior team that year.

Clare are seeking a radical revamp of the All-Ireland minor football championship, replacing the provincial championships with eight groups of four on a seeded basis.

Down will propose that the ban on players who are sent off in a final participating in the presentation ceremony be lifted.

It caused problems for Moorefield captain Daryl Flynn and vice-captain David Whyte last year after both were sent off in the Kildare county final.

They jointly accepted the trophy in contravention of rule, leading to a suspension for the first round of this year's county championship.

"If I could make the decision again I'd lift the cup again. You mightn't get that chance again in your life," said Flynn.

Irish Independent

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