Sport Hurling

Wednesday 27 August 2014

GAA - All 'free' yards to come under referee scrutiny

Colm Keys

Published 17/06/2014 | 02:30

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Clare selector Mike Deegan confronts referee James McGrath at half time during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Semi-Final between Clare and Cork on Sunday. Picture credit: Dáire Brennan / SPORTSFILE
Clare selector Mike Deegan confronts referee James McGrath at half time during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Semi-Final between Clare and Cork on Sunday. Picture credit: Dáire Brennan / SPORTSFILE

HURLING referees did not strictly enforce the rules surrounding the taking of all frees in the two Liam MacCarthy Cup games last weekend, but will be asked to do so this weekend, when they convene for a scheduled meeting tonight.

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Two separate communications were issued last week conveying the interpretation from the GAA's Central Council on where penalties and frees should be taken from.

The first was a proposal from the GAA's Management to Central Council aimed at bringing some order to the chaos of penalties and 20-metre frees with the interpretation that a lift does not constitute a strike and that a penalty or 20-metre free must be struck on the actual 20-metre line.

It also outlined that defenders could not rush off their line until the ball had been 'struck.'

However, reference to just the penalty and the 20-metre free in the document issued last Tuesday raised a potential anomaly as to whether all frees had to be 'struck' from the point where the foul had occurred.

This was cleared up by a second communication on Thursday, which confirmed approval by Central Council of the initial proposal and, under a section entitled 'points to note,' stressed that the interpretation covered all frees.

"Where play is restarted by a free puck, the ball must be struck at the point where the foul occurred. As in football, the player taking the free puck may bring the ball back as far as he wishes for the purposes of making a run before striking the ball,' last Thursday's communication added. The directive was to be effective from last Saturday.

But neither Colm Lyons in the Leinster semi-final between Dublin and Wexford on Saturday night in Wexford Park, nor James McGrath in Thurles on Sunday for Cork and Clare strictly enforced the rule, allowing players to gain the usual number of yards on frees further outfield.

It is understood the priority was to get the calls from penalties and 20-metre frees right first, but from next weekend on, stricter policing of where frees are placed is likely to be in operation.

Cork's Patrick Horgan scored goals from a penalty and a 20m free, both of which he 'struck' from before the 20-metre line in accordance with new directive.

Meanwhile, Mark Ellis' knee injury is not as bad as first expected and the Cork centre-back should be well recovered in time for the Munster final against Limerick on July 13.

Ellis was replaced by Eoin Cadogan late in Sunday's victory over Clare after injuring his knee in an accidental clash with a team-mate. Cork sources were relieved when it was diagnosed as "slight ligament damage" and he is expected to make a swift recovery.

Irish Independent

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