Melee? Brawl? Hurly-burly? Defining the real issues in GAA

Has Tipperary secretary Tim Floyd opened a veritable Pandora’s box for GAA legislators?

In the week that’s in it, there’s usually a distinct dearth of press releases that would catch your eye, leaving you free to consider more urgent festive matters, like is shortbread the perfect Christmas gift for someone you don’t like?

Thanks to a release about the passing of a motion at the recent Tipperary GAA county convention, though, the shortbread issue has been set aside for the time being and all thoughts are solely focussed on this question:

How many people have to be involved in a scrap for it to be defined as a melee?

Is it:

(a) Two or more?

or

(b) At least five?

Tipperary county board secretary Tim Floyd has a preference for (b), but he wouldn't object if the majority of delegates at the 2018 GAA Congress opt for (a), as long as a melee is defined in numerical terms in the rule book, he'll be happy enough.

And his desire for this definition was overwhelming supported by delegates at the Tipperary convention, so it will be put to Congress next year – just when you thought repealing the Eighth Amendment might be the only major issue voted on in 2018.

Floyd's raising of the matter stems from his undying annoyance over Tipperary's Jason Forde being found guilty of 'contributing to a melee' when he only had a run-in with one man, albeit Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald, back in April's league semi-final.

When he represented the player at his Central Appeals Committee hearing, Floyd asked how many had to be embroiled in on-the-field aggro for it to be a melee and was none too impressed when he was told "at least two".

“They made it up on the spot,” he said.

A number

So, he just wants a number put on it, "say five or more", and for it be clarified that a melee needn't necessarily include just players – managers, chartered or unchartered physiotherapists, linesmen, President Michael D Higgins, hot dog sellers, anyone in the stadium at the time who gets involved is part of the melee.

Tipperary referee co-ordinator Jim O’Shea worried that if a melee “is defined as five, the fear is there that you won’t be able to act if there is only four involved”.

That’s not an unreasonable point. And it highlights the difficulty with this numbering business – you could have four involved in a savage melee, and five participating in a harmless enough one. Should numbers be the issue, then?

But, if that’s what’s required, so be it. For referees to know what to put in their reports, then, something like this might work:

Kerfuffle: One to two involved.

Handbags: Three to four.

Melee: Five to eight.

Shemozzle: Nine to 11.

Hurly-burly: 12-15.

Argy-bargy: 16-20.

Brawl: 21-24.

Bedlam: 25-29.

Free-for-All: Every player on the pitch.

Blue Bloody Murder: Every player on the pitch, plus Davy Fitz, subs, physiotherapists, President Michael D Higgins, hot dog sellers, Marty Morrissey, several spectators and three trumpeters from the Artane Band, resulting in all of the following Monday's Liveline being devoted to the incident.

Any way, that’s for Congress to decide next year. You’d guess they’ll be presenting Tim Floyd with shortbread this Christmas.