From January 1, all underage players from minor level down including schools must wear the protection in football matches.
According to the rule, punishment for a player found not to be wearing one is a caution followed by an
ordering off the field if he still does not wear one.
“They should have been wearing them,”
said GAA director of games administration and player welfare Feargal McGill of the college footballers this week.
“The issue there is, first and foremost, that referees shouldn’t be permitting them to play without gumshields.
“They were intentionally breaking rules, any player who was playing without a mouthguard. The referee could have ordered the player off.”
Speaking earlier this month, chairman of the GAA’s medical, scientific and welfare committee Ger Ryan said there would be no grace period as regards adhering to the rule.
The GAA have advised all clubs and schools to buy “bite and boil” gumshields in bulk to ensure no player runs the
risk of not having one on the day of a game and being ordered off.
They are also expected to be worn during training sessions and any footballer not wearing one is not covered by the GAA’s player insurance scheme.
The measure is also seen as a means of reducing the cost as well as the number of head and facial injuries in the scheme.
As well as protecting teeth, mouthguards help prevent skull fractures as they absorb the impact on the outside and stop it from travelling through the nose to the skull.
Mandatory mouthguards come into operation at senior and U21 level from January 1, 2014.