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Leave melees to the players themselves, warns McGurn

Mayo selector Tony McEntee. Photo: Sportsfile
Mayo selector Tony McEntee. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

A former Irish rugby strength and conditioning coach, who has had involvement with three different inter-county teams as well as the Irish International Rules squad, has warned of the dangers of team mentors getting involved in any capacity in flashpoints involving rival players.

His warning comes as the GAA's Central Competition Controls Committee continues to probe the incidents which marred Sunday's Allianz Division 1 league game between Galway and Mayo.

The match in Pearse Stadium was held up for several minutes as players grappled with each other.

Mayo selector Tony McEntee was involved in trying to remove players from one particular scrum that had developed around Aidan O'Shea but Galway's focus quickly turned on McEntee.

McGurn believes the presence of any team officials in such situations can be inflammatory and says it is an unwritten rule in the game of rugby to stay out.

Last year Wexford hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald picked up a two-month ban for his involvement in an on-pitch altercation between players, for which Tipperary player Jason Forde also picked up a two-match ban.

Hurt "The players have a different level of adrenalin to the mentors on the sideline and someone is going to get hurt," warned McGurn, who has been involved with Louth, Armagh and Antrim in recent years and was on Anthony Tohill's backroom team for the 2011 International Rules trip to Australia, having previously been with Eddie O'Sullivan's Ireland rugby team.

"Mentors should be kept away, it's not a good optic for kids to see, it's a poor optic at any level.

"It's almost an unwritten rule (in rugby) that the 15 that cross the whitewash deal with what they are going to deal with and the referee and that's it. Nobody else has (involvement)

"They're nothing, they're there to facilitate, don't speak, don't talk back to the fourth official, don't talk to the linesman. Their place is to facilitate and keep quiet, nothing else.

"It makes players madder when an official gets involved more so than a player. If a player throws a punch they can accept it and give one back, that's grand but for an official to be in there pushing shoving and dragging, it's an unwritten rule."

Mayo and Galway can both expect heavy fines and while a number of players were booked, others could potentially face suspensions for contributing to an unseemly melee.

The match, a preview of their May 13 championship meeting, drew a crowd of 9,850, while it was TG4's highest-rated event during 14 hours of live sports coverage with an average of 116,700 viewers, a 13 per cent share.

Irish Independent

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