Will new GAA rules end rollicking of teammates?
At GAA Congress, words mean everything. Every year there are a couple of dozen recommendations the Rules Advisory Committee propose as motions.
Quite often, it is to change one word in an obscure by-law. Something may have emerged over the past 12 months that necessitates such fine-tuning, or else those charged with such responsibilities might have discovered a minor loophole they hadn't considered previously.
You wouldn't have to do much searching before you could find an empty vessel insisting the GAA would be well-served by ripping up the present Official Guide and starting afresh and drawing up a new set of rules governing not only the playing of Gaelic games, but also administration. That could be explained away with the old saying that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
But consider this. In getting the 'Black card' through Congress last year, five offences in Gaelic football were cited. We already see the benefits now that the pull-down, the deliberate trip and the deliberate body-collide are outlawed.
We acknowledge that players are not allowed to verbally remonstrate with match officials. But there's one more – to give verbal abuse to a team-mate or opponent – that I'm not sure about.
Abusing opponents is not on, and the sledging that occurred in inter-county games of the last decade was unacceptable. But at what point do you draw the line with verbally abusing a team-mate?
Is the time-honoured rollicking to a team-mate now to be an offence worthy of dismissal? We have not seen it yet. My guess is it will be extremely rare. But keep an eye out all the same.