The role of maor foirne in hurling and football matches continues to come under scrutiny as referees have voiced their concerns over disruptive pitch encroachments.
The maor foirne, or team officials, were rarely spoken about before last weekend, when Dublin’s Greg Kennedy stole the headlines.
The Dublin ‘runner’ essentially marked a Kilkenny player during the county’s Leinster championship clash at Nowlan Park and intercepted a pass, which, if completed, would have created a clear goal-chance.
Kennedy is facing a ban from the sidelines and his actions have put the role of maor foirne right in the spotlight.
Referees in both hurling and football have concerns over the role of runners and their presence on the field, meaning that the GAA could limit their function or do away with them altogether this summer.
"A referee obviously wants to adjudicate on a game," said Willie Barrett, Chair of Croke Park’s Referees’ Development Committee.
"You could be refereeing a match, you may not see an encroachment on the field. Your whole focus is on the game as a referee, absolutely. You’re not going to be looking around the field to see if there’s someone on the field.
"I don’t think any of us want people on the field of play to be honest about it. We would have said throughout the League that we don’t want encroachment."
Currently a maor foirne is only allowed on the pitch during a break in play after a score or wide or when the referee has stopped the game to allow medical attention for a player.
However, it is common to see runners moving into the field while the ball is in play, or remaining on after the play has restarted following a break.
Some teams use this as a tactic to slow the game down, as explained by former Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice on Twitter on Tuesday night.
"While Greg Kennedy incident has brought matters to a head this week, it was no huge shock to me as maor foirne role has been exploited for some time as every team (including ourselves) have sought to push its limits," he posted.
"T McEntee (Tony, former Mayo selector) was a great man to spot and fill space on an opposition kick-out, as he slowly withdrew from the pitch, disrupting goalkeepers' appreciation of space. Jayo (Jason Sherlock, Dublin) is a good man to drag his backside when required also."
While Greg Kennedy incident has brought matters to a head this week it was no huge shock to me as Maor Fóirne role has been exploited for some time as every team (including ourselves) have sought to push it’s limits. 1/2— Éamonn Fitzmaurice (@efitz6) May 14, 2019
Referee Cathal McAllister should have sent Kennedy out of the game, barring him from taking any further part, though on Saturday he merely ordered him off the field and the former Galway defender continued in his duties.
The Cork whistler had awarded a Kilkenny free in and was talking to Dublin defender Chris Crummy when he allowed play to restart.
Spotting Kilkenny’s Billy Ryan was standing on his own in a dangerous position, Kennedy essentially went to mark him and then cut out the pass from Reid’s free.
Kennedy shouldn’t have been on the pitch at the time and he certainly wasn’t entitled to interfere with the play.