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Why is the GAA combating cynicism in one code while promoting it in another?

Published 11/06/2014 | 09:08

Will this penalty rule clarification rob us of moments like this?
Will this penalty rule clarification rob us of moments like this?

Last night's clarification of the penalty rule in hurling is leading our beautiful game down a dangerous path.

Say whatever you will about the black card and how it is being administered in gaelic football, the fact is that cynical fouling has fallen considerably and scoring averages have risen.

It was a well conceived plan even through there have been teething problems with its delivery.

The GAA's recalibration of the penalty rule for hurling brought about by the Anthony Nash phenomenon was a knee-jerk reaction and a decision that could have serious ramifications for competing counties in the coming weeks.

The fact of the matter is that the revised regulation is heavily weighted in the defending team's favour.

By not allowing free or penalty takers to cross the 20m threshold, as they have been previously have been, the GAA have opened up the possibility that teams will concede frees inside their own 20 metre line to stop a goalbound shot in favour of setting up on the line for a pot shot from 20 metres.

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.

If you look at gaelic football, ever since the penalty was brought up two yards the conversion rate has gone up because it gives keepers less time to react. We're only talking hundredths of seconds but it really counts.

A foul in the large rectangle to stop a certain goal entitles the team who have been fouled to have a greater chance at converting it, doesn't it?

A penalty prior to Nash's technique change was struck from about 17 yards, from now on it will be 20 yards. It may not seem much but I think any half decent keeper with two men accompanying him on the line will more than fancy their chances of keeping a penalty out.

Why not take the two defenders out of the equation and have the taker and keeper go head-to-head? This might even lead to less fouling and more goals from open play.

No one wants a situation where a keeper is left with a massive bruise like the one Stephen O'Keeffe suffered but if we get to a place where penalties being fired over the bar is a norm it will be far worse.

If this rule leads to teams opting to take points rather than go for goals, the game loses one of it's most drama inducing aspects.

What if this rule clarification was brought in 20 years ago? Johnny Dooley would not have gone for the goal that sparked Offaly's comeback in the 1994 All-Ireland, superb strikes from the likes of Paul Flynn, Henry Shefflin and others would have been robbed from us.

Last year was viewed as the greatest season of hurling ever, if we begin to make mistakes like this, it may never be surpassed and that is a chilling thought.

Online Editors

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