New hurling rules apply to frees in every area of pitch, insists GAA
All hurling free-takers, as opposed to penalty and 20-metre free strikers only, will be impacted on by the amended rules which come into effect this weekend.
Amid growing confusion over the specifics of the emergency changes, introduced following controversy during the Cork v Waterford clash on Sunday, the GAA yesterday issued a clarification for free-taking in all parts of the pitch.
All frees – irrespective of where they occur – must be taken from the spot where the foul was committed, which means that the striker must move the ball back an unspecified number of metres to allow for the run-up.
It's a marked deviation from what has applied throughout GAA history, but will guard against a situation where a free awarded just outside the 20-metre line could be struck from much closer to goal.
The GAA's new interpretation for penalty and 20-metre free-taking, announced on Tuesday, made no reference to other frees, but a problem would have arisen if players were allowed to continue taking them in the long-established fashion of lifting the ball and moving forward before striking.
The amended rule means that frees in all parts of the pitch will, in fact, be taken further from the opposition goal than heretofore. Players in action this weekend will need to understand that if they don't strike the ball from the exact spot where the foul occurred, they risk having it cancelled.
Clarification has also been issued over how to deal with a player who accidentally crosses the 20-metre line when taking a penalty or free. It will now be deemed to have been a deliberate act, punished by a throw-in. There's quite a lot of change involved, but the GAA insist they had no option but to act after the unsavoury incident last Sunday.
A scuffle broke out after Waterford goalkeeper Stephen O'Keeffe dashed off his line and saved at close range from his opposite number Anthony Nash, who had gained around seven metres with a forward toss of the ball off a penalty.