The Gospel According to the G.A.A.

Post Advertiser, Jan. 1986, Vol 1 No 12


Did you know that the G.A.A. promotes Rounders? Or that it supports lrish industry? And, that if you fail to provide trophies and playing equipment of Irish manufacture you can be penalised £50? And, if your correspondence is not written on Irish paper it can be ruled out of order? Similarly, if you do not follow certain guidelines for the use of the Irish language in correspondence the latter can be ruled out of order. 

The late Hubie Hogan,a former county chairman, remembered the latter to his regret. During the mid-forties Hubie and the late Mick Brophy, the father of Michael Brophy who is on the present county senior hurling panel, cycled from Lorrha, to Thurles to present their club's case in some objection. Having arrived to the meeting of the county board they waited to be invited in to present their case. When they finally got in they were informed by the chairman that their case was out of order because it had not been written in Irish! The two had to cycle home the full forty-six miles again empty-handed. 


The Association shall also be non-sectarian. Of course 'Faith of our Fathers' and the kissing of the Bishop's ring before the start of major games are now part of history. But what about the medals presented to champions by the Tipperary county board. They all incorporate the arms of the Catholic bishop of Cashel and Emly. How does one reconcile that practice with Rule 9. 

It is interesting to recall that in 1934 an attempt to incorporate the arms of the Bishop of Killaloe in the medal to be struck for the winners of the Clare county hurling and football champions failed. 1934 was the Golden Jubilee of Bishop Fogarty's ordination as well as the foundation of the G.A.A. and the county chairman, Monsignor Hamilton, envisaged the idea of combining both jubilees on the county championship medal. A proof or sample medal was made by J. Maurer of Ennis. It was made in sterling silver, one and a quarter inches across with a bust of Bishop Fogarty in the centre. At a further county board, meeting the members did not approve of he bust. It was replaced by a similar type medal in 9 caret gold with the heads of Croke, Cusack and Davin in the centre 

An Treoraí Oifigúil 1986

All of this interesting information is contained in the new Official Guide of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The Guide has been fully revised and it was sanctioned at a Special Congress in Cork in December 1985. Rule 12 is concerned with Amateur Status. No player, team, official or member shall accept payment in cash or in kind or other material reward in connection with his membership of the Association nor shall he be associated with any commercial enterprise in connection with membership of the Association. It seems that the individual member is denied an opportunity of making a few bob by virtue of his membership but the county board or any unit of the Association can make what they like. The Kerry county board can screw Mr .8endix for all they want but neither the Bomber nor Paudie O'Shea are entitled to a brass farthing. 

The rule on drugs intrigues me. Drugs and stimulants are strictly forbidden. But there will be no spot checks. A player will submit to a drug test only when directed in writing. The rule doesn t say how long after the direction has been issued. Would it be possible to submit after a month, or perhaps, six? 

Under the rules for membership clubs and counties shall insist that the first allegiance of their members is to the Association and may impose disciplinary measure for breaches of the same. What kind of disciplinary measures? If your goalie is late for the game because he has been playing in the town soccer league, what can you do about him, What punishment can Ballina Stephenites hand out to their player who chooses to play basketball with Team West on the day of a Connaught club championship game? 

The British Armed Forces

Under the new deal for Northern Ireland what is going to happen if a multitude of Association members begin to join the British Armed Forces or the R.U.C.? They will automatically debar themselves from membership of the Association. And, if your girlfriend insists on going to the R.U.C. disco in Ballygawley you have got a problem. If you do not go you have a row on your hands and if you do you are liable to three months suspension from the Association. But then, whose to tell you were there! . 

A club shall be held responsible for the conduct of its members and known partisans. What can you do about the local loud mouth who comes to all your games and hurls invective at all and sundry. Have him arrested the night before for being drunk and disorderly? Give him the wrong venue for the game. There is very little can be done except to hope that he gets an attack of laringitis on the day. 

In line with our national proclivity to ignore the living and profuse about the dead Rule 24 states that a club shall not be named after a living person. Even Pope John XXIII is excluded. 

The United States

A member cannot play hurling, football or handball (what about rounders?) promoted by any body not affiliated to Central Council, without the prior sanction of Central Council. In order to get that prior sanction one must have an official authorisation form in duplicate, signed by the club and county secretaries and the Director General. The form must be lodged in Croke Park at least two days before the date of the game. Just imagine trying to get all those signatories in a hurry! 

Did you know that senior provincial championships shall be decided during the months of May, June and July. In exceptional circumstances, to be decided by the Games Administration Committee, provincial finals may be played on the first Sunday in August. Only twenty-one players are allowed on a county team party and, prior to All-Ireland semi-finals and finals the placing of the teams must be given to the Director General at least six days prior to that game. 


The field of play shall be rectangular. and its dimensions shall be 130 to 145 metres in length and 80 to 90 metres wide. The scoring space shall be formed by two seven (minimum) metres high goalposts placed in the middle of the end line. They must be 6.5 metres apart and the crossbar must be 2.5 metres high. 

There are two rectangles marked in the front of the goals. The first, the so-called small square, shall be 14 metres by 4.5 metres. The second rectangle, the so-called big square shall be 19 metres by 13 metres. This shall be formed by two lines, 13 metres long at right angles to the end line marked 6.5 metres from each goalpost. There is an anomoly here. If the goalposts are 6.5 metres apart and the 13 metre lines at right angles are 6.5 metres from each goalpost then the total width of the rectangle has to be 19.5 metres. And that does not include the width of the posts. So, where does that leave Rule 162(b)!

Will the anomoly provide, the basis of a successful objection at some future date? It might but only if Rule 163, is observed: It states that no 'objection shall be made to the markings of a pitch or the dimensions thereof unless an official protest is made 'to the referee by the captain of the team before the game.' You have really got to get your retaliation in first! 

The hurling ball shall weigh not less than 100 or more than 130 grammes and have a circumference of between 23 and 25 centimetres. And the football measurements are also specified, between 370 and 425 grammes in weight and between 69 and 74 centimetres in circumference.

The Hurley

Dimensions for a hurley are introduced for the first time. It shall weigh not less than 567 and not more than 680 grammes. Its length shall be between 94 and 97 centimetres and its width shall not be more than 13 centimetres. A couple of thoughts come to mind. Why was it necessary to have a minimum weight and a minimum length. Maybe 94 centimetres is just too long for a small man playing senior hurling. Will the referees gear in the future include a metric measuring tape and weighing scales? Will there be spot weigh-ins after every match? Whatever the result may be this new rule 165 must be the swansong of the half-door hurleys of the present time. 

Before all senior intercounty championships, National League finals, Railway Cup finals and AII-Ireland and provincial and senior championship finals, a team shall take the field not later, than ten mins before the appointed starting time. For all other games it is,five minutes. Teams appearing late will be penalised £20 at the county and provincial level and £5 at club level for every five minutes or part thereof. A team taking the field more than fifteen mins. after the appointed starting time shall be liable to forfeiture of the game in which case the game shall be awarded to the opposing team. But what if both teams are more than fifteen minutes late? 


There are four categories of fouls and for every one a free will be awarded to the opposing team. For instance striking or attempting to strike interfering with, threatening or using abusive language or conduct to a match official is a Category A foul. Doing the same thing to an opponent is in Category B. 

Charging the goalkeeper within the small rectangle is a Category C foul while lifting the ball off the ground with the knees or lying on the ball is a Category D infringement. 

In this comprehensive and all-embracing document there are 214 rules, many of them containing a number of sections. Number 214 concerns the kick out in football. At the very end of the book there are amended rules for the club constitution. Overall it is an impressive production and will, no doubt, provide great scope for discussion among players and members alike.