Sunday 24 September 2017

Tipperary want an end to money-spinning GAA replays

Replays return €10m over last three years

Tipperary’s Séamus Callanan strikes his penalty over the bar during last year’s All-Ireland SHC final. A motion at Congress proposes a one-on-one penalty from 20 metres
Tipperary’s Séamus Callanan strikes his penalty over the bar during last year’s All-Ireland SHC final. A motion at Congress proposes a one-on-one penalty from 20 metres

Marin Breheny

A herd of cash cows that have yielded almost €10m for the GAA over the last three years will be despatched to the knacker's yard on Saturday if Tipperary gets its way.

In a dramatic move to eradicate replays, Tipperary will propose to Congress that extra-time apply in all inter-county and club competitions up to and including All-Ireland senior finals.

Championship replays have been a rich source of income over the years and particularly in 2012, '13 and '14 when all three All-Ireland senior hurling finals finished level.

It was an amazing sequence, following a 53-year wait for a replay between 1959 and 2012. The last senior football final to go to a replay was Galway v Kerry in 2000 - the longest gap since 1972-88.

Apart from last year's drawn hurling final, the Kerry-Mayo football semi-final, plus five provincial games and the Clare-Wexford hurling qualifier, finished level, the latter after extra-time.

The eight replays were watched by a total of 213,239 spectators.

Tipperary will argue that playing extra-time in all games that finish level would free up dates for clubs on an already crowded fixtures schedule, but it's unlikely that their proposal will attract enough support to be passed.

Apart from the financial considerations, there's also the promotional value of replays, especially at the glamour end of the season.

The Tipperary motion is one of 65 proposals that will go before delegates on Saturday. There's added significance as it's a rule-changing Congress, which occurs once every five years.

The following are the other main motions, the reasoning behind them and how they are likely to fare.

Introduce a one v one hurling penalty from the 20-metre line (Hurling 20/20 Committee)

Why: It's an attempt to tidy up the mess which has prevailed over penalty-taking in recent seasons.

Prospects of success: Good

Introduce an advantage rule in hurling. (Hurling 20/20)

Why? Already in place in football, where it works well, it allows the referee to wait for five seconds to see if an advantage has accrued. If not,he can award a free.

Prospects of success: Excellent

Allow a replacement in hurling for a player sent off on a second yellow card (Hurling 20/20)

Why? Presumably, the 20/20 group believe that certain sins in hurling should be subject to lesser punishment than in football. They will have a hard sell with this one, especially among the stronger football counties.

Prospects of success: Zero

Introduce a black card in hurling (Maastricht, Europe)

Why? What's good for the football goose should be good for the hurling gander - that will be the argument on this one. Expect well-coordinated resistance from the strong hurling counties.

Prospects of success: Poor

Reduce from four to three the number of steps a hurler is allowed to take with ball in hand (Tipperary)

Why? Tipperary obviously believe that it would force players to get rid of the ball faster. Others will argue that it would lead to more unsightly bottlenecks. Indeed, there are some who want the number of permitted steps to be increased from four to five, or possibly even six.

Prospects of success: Poor

Abandon plans to introduce a clock/hooter to end championship games (Central Council)

Why? The last Central Council meeting heard a number of reasons why a proposal, which has been twice approved by Congress and is now the rule book, should be scrapped. Due to come in for this year's championships, this is the most controversial motion on the agenda as it seeks to delete a rule a few months ahead of its introduction. It's an affront to previous Congresses but has the backing of Central Council, which could make the crucial difference since county delegates rarely go against the main power-brokers.

Prospects of success: Good

Yellow card issued in normal time won't carry forward in extra-time (Down)

Why? It would end the anomaly where a player who picks up a second yellow card in the first minute of extra-time cannot be replaced, whereas a team is allowed to bring on a replacement for extra-time if a player is sent off on a straight red card during normal time. Sounds like a sensible idea, but don't bank on it getting through.

Prospects of success: Average

Inter-county U-21 hurling and football championship games to be played over 35-minute halves. (Tipperary)

Why? It's an attempt to bring the U-21 grade into line with senior. Sounds logical but is likely to have plenty opposition, even if only for the sake of it.

Prospects of success: Average

That a concussion rule, similar to the blood sub regulation, be introduced for players who receive a serious blow to the head (Tyrone, Fermanagh, North American Board)

Why? Concerns about concussion are growing in all field sports and this is an attempt to bring it to the forefront during GAA games. Proving there's a need for a specific rule will be difficult. Besides, there's the risk that it would be exploited to make substitutions for spurious concussion claims. After all, it happens with the blood rule.

Prospects of success: Poor

Allow only two consecutive handpasses in football, after which the ball must be played away with the boot (Clare)

Why? There's a growing sense that unrestricted handpassing is diluting Gaelic football's appeal. However, if there's to be a change, it would come after an experimental phase. This motion has no such provision and will be dealt with accordingly.

Prospects of success: Zero

When a football goalkeeper receives the ball from a colleague, he must play it away with the boot (Kildare)

Why? Designed to reduce back-passing deep in defence, it's an interesting concept but major playing rule changes are usually experimented with before coming to Congress.

Prospects of success: Poor

There must be no propulsion of the ball by the non-striking hand when a hand pass is being executed (Westmeath)

Why? Former All-Ireland referee Paddy Collins contends that 25pc of hand passes are throws and another 25pc so borderline that it's difficult to make an accurate judgement. This motion seeks to have a strict differentiation between the movement of the hand holding the ball and the hand making the pass. It makes perfect sense.

Prospects of success: Good

Violation of the winter training ban for senior inter-county panels to be punished by the loss of home advantage for an Allianz League game (Central Council)

Why: The closed season training ban has been in the rule book for several years but carried no stated sanction for violations. This is an attempt to include a formal deterrent.

Prospects of success: Excellent

Squad lists (26) for senior inter-county championship games must be released no later than 9am on the Thursday before a game (Central Council)

Why? It's an attempt to end the trick-acting by some managers, leading to players who are not named on the match programme either starting or coming on as replacements. The sentiment is good but there will be opposition.

Prospects of success: Average

All players for senior and U-21 inter-county championships must be aged over 18 years (Minor Review Committee)

Why: Designed to reduce the playing/training load on young players.

Prospects of success: Average

Scrap quarter-finals in the All-Ireland minor football championship, allowing the four provincial winners directly through to semi-finals (Minor Review Committee)

Why: Having a back door for beaten provincial finalists is deemed unnecessary, especially if second chances are allowed in the provincial championships.

Prospects of success: Good

Allow Central Council to authorise the use of Croke Park and all county grounds for games other than those controlled by the GAA (Clare)

Why? It's an attempt to bring county grounds into line with Croke Park. At face value, it's perfectly logical but stand by for a blizzard of opposition for what is still an emotive subject in certain quarters, despite the obvious success which followed the opening of Croke Park ten years ago.

Prospects of success: Poor

Allow provincial councils to introduce a round-robin format for senior inter-county football championships (Leinster Council)

Why: Leinster want the option of running the early stages of their football championship on round- robin basis. Not allowed under current rules.

Prospects of success: Average

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