GAA Congress to separate a melee and a shemozzle

Motion also tabled calling on betting firms to be prohibited from GAA sponsorship

The GAA has now published the successful motions, 42 in total, with Congress set for Croke Park on the last weekend of February. Photograph by James Crombie

The GAA has now published the successful motions, 42 in total, with Congress set for Croke Park on the last weekend of February. Photograph by James Crombie

 

When does a melee actually become a melee? And what differentiates a melee from a shemozzle and a free-for-all? Or indeed minor physical interference?

Hardly the most pressing of national matters, but probably the most interesting question going before Congress later this month.

The GAA has now published the successful motions, just 42 in total (including two already approved by Central Council): after the near revolution in championship dates and structures last year, this time it’s mostly housekeeping, with Congress set for Croke Park on the last weekend of this month, February 23rd/24th.

Such as the exact definition of the melee: two motions address the matter, most specifically motion 21, submitted by Tipperary, as originally penned by their county secretary Tim Floyd.

It arises from an incident in last April’s league semi-final, where Tipperary’s Jason Forde was guilty of “contributing to a melee”, when essentially that only involved one other person, Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald.

At the Tipperary convention in December, Floyd argued that when taking the case to the GAA’s Central Appeals Committee hearing, he asked how many people were required to be involved in a melee, to be told “at least two”. Floyd reckoned “they made it up on the spot”.

If motion 21 if successful (and under new rule only a 60 per cent majority is required), “a melee shall be defined as a minimum of five persons”. This will involve a change to Rule 7.2 (b) of the Official Guide, which deals with misconduct at games by players, category III (vi) being “contributing to a melee”. It being “five persons”, this would also include managers, substitutes, backroom team members, etc.

Forde’s ban for contributing to the melee was a one-match ban, reduced on appeal from the two-match ban for “assault” of an opposing team mentor. Fitzgerald received an eight-week ban for his part in the “melee” incident.

Motion 10, submitted by the Rules Advisory Committee, also looks to address this matter, again by dealing with Rule 7.2 (b). If successful, the following sub-paragraph would be added: “(vii) minor physical interference (e.g. laying a hand on, pushing, pulling or jostling) with an Opposing Team Official either on or off the field of play” – again part of the purpose there being to more strictly define when a melee actually becomes a melee.

Elsewhere, none of the three motions seeking to end the GAA’s controversial pay-per-view TV rights deal have made it the official clár.

Three counties had approved motions on the issue, each effectively stemming from the GAA deal with Sky Sports, first agreed in 2014 – then extended for another five years last year, through to 2021.

All however were ruled out on the basis they essentially mirrored a 2016 motion, tabled by the St Joseph’s Boys club in Dublin: that motion was defeated at Congress 2016 (15 per cent for to 85 per cent against), and as it failed to receive one-third backing, a similar motion may not be permitted on the clár in the subsequent three years, “unless the Management Committee allows it in exceptional circumstances” (as per rule 3.4 (h) of the Official Guide).

The Clare motion essentially opposed “exclusive” pay-per-view, which could have been interpreted as being different to the 2016 motion; again, Management Committee ruled otherwise.

With no revised competition structures on the clár (except at minor football level), the rest of the 2018 motions will cause little stir; 2020 is also the next year when counties may brings motions to Congress looking to make changes to playing rules.

Motion 1, from Central Council, is calling on betting firms to be prohibited from engaging in any form of GAA sponsorship from 2019 onwards. Congress 2017 also passed a motion that prohibits a player, a team, a member of a team management or match official involved in a match from betting on the outcome of any aspect of that match.

The Club Players Association (CPA) have also tabled a motion on voting accountability. There is also a motion from Clare which will require all club managers, coaches and selectors to be a member of that club, essentially ruling out the prospect of bringing in ‘outside’ managers, unless they sign up to full membership of that second club too.

Motion 6 from Great Britain seeks to allow the use of GAA grounds “located outside of Ireland” for other sports, provided authority is given from Central Council. Currently, Croke Park is the only grounds allowed for such use. There are also two motions looking to introduce the under-20 grade in hurling, as approved for football last year. 

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