Joe Canning: Needless rules put in place by fussy and regimental GAA

Published date13 May 2022
Publication titleIrish Times: Web Edition Articles (Dublin, Ireland)
Everyone knows that the GAA can be fussy and regimental when it comes to rules and regulations. But sometimes it's the small things that leave a lasting impression

For instance, why can't a player carry his hurl onto the field on the walk around before a big game? Think about the strangeness of that. You go to play an All-Ireland semi-final in Croke Park, say. Maybe 60,000 people turning up, millions in gate receipts and a nationally televised game.

The teams get to walk the pitch when they arrive. But the players cannot carry their hurl with them. It's just not permitted. I'm not sure why - I've never heard an explanation. It is not as though we are going to tear up the pitch.

I know this may seem like a small thing. But we are hurlers at the end of the day, trying to prepare to play our best on a county team in what can be a demanding environment. Why not make things easier for the players rather than more difficult?

I don't know if this has always been the rule. But it has gone that way over the past few years.

And it's not consistent: it applies to Croke Park and to Semple Stadium in the All-Ireland championship. But that's where big championship games are played. What are you going to do - take 10,000 sideline cuts and root up the pitch? It doesn't make sense.

We played Cork in our last league game in 2021 in Pairc Ui Chaoimh - a match that we ultimately won and, subsequently, ended up sharing the title with Kilkenny. When we arrived, the steward was there with the door locked. We weren't allowed to walk on the pitch at all.

So the first time we got to go onto the pitch was for the warm up. Obviously, we weren't very familiar with the surface. You might wear 'mouldies' or six-stud boots, depending on the day. Yet we couldn't even test the field before we got togged out. What is the reasoning here? We weren't given one in Cork.

We were told to go out onto the Astro turf beforehand. It was just a flat no: you can't go out there until the warm up. It was an odd scenario. And I don't blame the stewards or groundsmen: they were merely acting on orders.

But it came to my mind while watching the Galway substitutes warming up before the recent championship game against Westmeath. It caught my eye because the fourth official was paying more attention to the fellas warming up than to the game. So let's say you see three guys running along the sideline - as you will do at all games. For whatever reason, the players are not allowed to warm up with a hurl in...

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