WITH no activity at all on the playing fields and not for another month at the very least, a lot of the space put aside for GAA activity is confined to what happens off the field.
Congress is coming up in a few weeks but the annual get-together of county delegates from across the country will be much different this time.
The big gathering at Croke Park will be held remotely this time, there will be no gathering at all and the business of the day will be conducted through the medium of technology.
Several important motions due to be debated have been put on the back burner and have been deferred to a Special Congress later in the year. The reasons given are that because of their importance it would have been difficult to discuss them via video conferencing.
However, it seems likely that a motion to discuss the introduction of a sin-bin bin for cynical play in hurling, one that prevents the opportunity of scoring a goal will go-ahead.
This issue has been a hot potato now for a while and it became more so last season when there were numerous occurrences of players being fouled, hauled down, etc when they had a goal at their mercy.
So, it’s only right and proper now that this issue gets as much airing as possible and there seems to be a broad support base for the introduction of what is now described as a Sin-Bin.
The motion states: 'If a foul is deemed to be of a cynical nature, ie a deliberate pull-down, a leg trip or an arm trip or a careless use of the hurley, then the player who commits that offence must be punished to a greater extent than is currently the case.'
The motion, if successful, would see the player who has transgressed removed from the field for 10 minutes.
The sin-bin has been seen to great effect in the game of rugby and maybe the time has come for the GAA to follow suit.
If not, you are going to get a lot more instances of what has been going on, players continuing to transgress in a cynical fashion to prevent a clear goal-scoring opportunity. This motion is seen as very complex by headquarters and its implementation might not be as easy as it seems.
But the wheels are turning now to do a lot more and it’s a motion that surely has a very good chance of succeeding.
After all, a cynical foul on a player going unpunished except for a yellow card could have a major bearing on the outcome of a game.
Here in Cork we saw an instance of how a player can be denied a goal-scoring when Shane Kingston was fouled in the Cork, Dublin, All-Ireland qualifier. Cork won that game easily enough but in another instance, it could have been so different.
In the aftermath of that game, Donal Óg Cusack, speaking on The Sunday Game alongside Ursula Jacob from Wexford believed that the time had come for the sin bin to be introduced.
“It is a serious subject and to issue a yellow card is not enough punishment. The player who commits the foul is stopping an out-and-out goalscoring opportunity.”
Of course, this is not the first time that this motion has come before Congress. Twelve months ago it was heavily defeated and, in fact, received just 18% support.
However, that figure is likely to be a lot higher this time if it does go to the floor but it remains to be seen if it will get the necessary support to get it passed.
Another person who believes in its introduction is former All-Ireland final referee, Brian Gavin. Gavin, who refereed four All-Ireland finals, says that cynical play must be stamped out.
“This has crept into the game more and more in the last two or three years. We saw many incidents last year of lads going through on goal and two arms grabbed around him and pulling him to the ground or else he was going through and a hurl was put between his legs to deliberately trip him.
“We’ve seen four or five incidents and I don’t think that’s sport and I don’t think anyone wants to see that.”