Cork accept 'Nash rule' verdict as GAA move to end anomaly
Cork hurling manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy said last night he will accept a ruling from the GAA's management committee that prevents a penalty or free in hurling being struck from any closer than 20 metres.
The interpretation of the rules governing penalties and frees, promised by the GAA in the wake of the last Sunday's debacle that saw Waterford goalkeeper Stephen O'Keeffe advance off his line to within a metre of Anthony Nash to block the Cork goalkeeper's penalty, came with the provision that a penalty or 20-metre free puck must be struck on or before the 20-metre line, but not beyond it.
To compensate for the lifting of the penalty or free, the takers will now be able to place the ball up to seven metres back from the 20-metre line "for the purposes of making a traditional run at the ball."
It could lead to more calculated fouling as the threat of a penalty or close-range free being struck from a distance of 20 metres or further is not as great.
Cork chairman Bob Ryan, who was vociferous in his opposition to a motion pulled from the last Congress in February on the issue, said he was "worried" for the future of the game of hurling after this latest development.
"I'm worried because there are people who are meddling in the rules of the game that I believe don't fully know what they are doing," he said.
"This only became a problem in last year's All-Ireland final, but this style of penalty taking has been going on since the time of Christy Ring."
"But we are now going to play three championship games in four weeks under different interpretations of a rule," he said.
Nash had perfected the art of getting greater elevation on his lift which ensured that he could generate greater power closer to the goals with his connection.
In response, other hurlers have introduced a higher lift to propel them closer to opposition goals.
But it has led to a confusion over other parts of the rule that insisted defending players had to keep a distance of 20 metres back from the point where the free or penalty was taken until the ball was struck.
Referees had been interpreting the striking action as the lift, not the strike, until last night's interpretation and that allowed defenders to run off their line before the ball was struck forcefully. It had led to an increasingly dangerous situation.
Barry-Murphy said last night they would abide by any interpretation that came from Croke Park. "We'll play by whatever directive comes out," he said. "I'm not into making rules or commenting on them, whatever changes come out from Croke Park, we'll abide by them. It has got a bit tiresome, but it's being sorted now as far as I'm concerned and I'm happy with that."
It was thought that the GAA could not revisit the rules on penalties and frees until Congress next February. But using rule 3.43 of the GAA's Official Guide Part One which decrees that Central Council can be called upon between Congresses for rule interpretations power has been exercised to bring order to the situation. Central Council must rubberstamp the interpretation before this weekend's games.
Limerick hurler Shane Dowling, who scored a goal from a 20m free in the Munster semi final win over Tipperary, was among those to voice his disapproval.
"They will now have to bring in a black card for cynical fouling in hurling as a penalty is now no more an advantage! #crazyidea #noadvantage," he tweeted.