McGill confirms U-turn over frees ruling
The controversy over the rules on free-taking in hurling has taken another twist, with the GAA conceding that a diktat issued last Thursday has been cancelled.
The latest change sees the abandonment of a decision that all frees must be struck from the point where the foul occurred. That would require the taker bringing the ball back some metres to facilitate the run between lifting and striking.
Due to come into effect last weekend, it was dropped when it emerged that an earlier decision on penalties and 20-metre frees, taken by Central Council, could not be extended to other frees.
The latest change still leaves one gaping anomaly. Under the new rules, which state that a penalty or free cannot be struck inside the 20-metre line, the taker is allowed to place the ball some metres back to allow him to build momentum after lifting the ball.
However, a 27-metre free can now be hit on the 20-metre line, thanks to the forward toss of the ball.
In response to a query raised by the Irish Independent, GAA Head of Games, Feargal McGill said that no free could be struck closer than the 20-metre line. However, he did concede that ground could be gained between lift and strike for frees further out.
That will become very significant for frees inside 30 metres. In a statement last Thursday, the GAA stated that all frees "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 purposes of making a run before striking the ball."
However, that was not implemented at the Dublin-Wexford or Clare-Cork games last weekend, adding to confusion over conflicting rule interpretations.