The whole country might be eagerly awaiting the return to on-field action in the GAA, and here in Roscommon there is just a week more to go before competitive action resumes with a senior hurling championship tie in Tremane. Yet even the most enthusiastic supporter is likely to have has one big fear about walking into a game – and it’s not catching Covid-19. Instead it’s all the pre-prepared smart comments that local loudmouths will have lined up, having had four months of lockdown in which to develop a whole new arsenal of unimaginative abuse.
With this in mind, the GAA has moved swiftly to deal with this concern, and new rules have been brought in place to outlaw each of the following phrases at matches:
(1) “Mark your man, we’re not social distancing now!”
Already players shudder at the sound of this, having heard it approximately 134 times from their manager in their training sessions so far.
Penalty: Instant removal from the ground
(2) “Good to see you spent lockdown learning how to bake – and eat”
For a while during the lockdown, flour had around the same street value as cocaine. This was a result of everyone deciding that they were going to spend their time at home learning how to bake their own bread. Many of us got sucked into the craze, and it wouldn’t be fair to blame a junior footballer for gaining a pound or two as he enjoyed his own creations.
Penalty: Guilty party is forced to take a fitness test in front of everyone at either half time or full time.
(3) “Keep up with the play ref, you don’t need to quarantine yourself on the centre spot!”
If players have had it tough maintaining their fitness over the past few months, imagine how tough it’s been for referees who don’t have a club whatsapp group to push them on? In some cases, how could they train? They had to cocoon, due to age.
Penalty: Three matches of compulsory umpire duty
(4) “That lad is well used to wearing a mask, he’s after robbing that free”
It might be slightly witty, but we can’t be seen to be negative towards masks.
Penalty: Offending person must wear a mask in the opposition colours for the remainder of the game.
(5) “You can catch the ball, it doesn’t have coronavirus on it!”
This comment will replace “you can catch it, it’s not hot” every time someone spills a 40-yard pass, but expect the novelty value to wear off very soon.
Penalty: A yellow card for the first offence, red card if it’s repeated.
(6) “He wouldn’t pass the virus, never mind a ball“
Lads who like to run the ball into trouble or shoot from crazy angles have been the target of crowd abuse for as long as supporters have attended games, so all this does is change the wording of the criticism. In that regard, it’s not one of the more serious offences.
Penalty: The attending club Covid-19 officer will tell the offending party “less of that now”.
(7) “One corona please, hold the virus”
Expect every club shop in the country to be haunted with this one, and it’s so bad, it’s unforgivable. The GAA are showing no mercy here, and rightly so.
Penalty: Lifetime ban from all GAA activity