The new kick-out restriction, which sees a goalkeeper unable to receive a kick-out directly back from a colleague he has just delivered it to, will come into force in all competitions once the month-long post-Congress clearance period has passed.
That decision was taken at a Central Council meeting on Saturday when the weekend’s business had concluded, leaving teams and coaches having to adapt quickly to a significant change.
The motion, from Kildare club Raheens, slipped in on Friday night with no discussion but, rather than set it aside until 2021, Central Council delegates opted to press ahead with its introduction at the earlier opportunity.
That means that competitions that have already started, like club leagues, will have to factor it in from around the first week in April.
GAA director-general Tom Ryan outlined that the Allianz Leagues would be completed without the restriction being imposed.
“Pretty much everybody at the table had a perspective. ‘Our League has already started’ and ‘our League is starting in three weeks’ time and has an interregnum of two months and then gets going again’. The cleanest way to do it that we concluded was we’d just come in with it,” he said.
“I don’t see that in being too revolutionary as a measure in football terms,” he added. “That’s why, if we did, we might have looked at the longer period before introducing it but that kind of goes against the democratic spirit of things,” he added.
The question as to what would happen if an outfield player took a kick-out and received it directly back will also be addressed with Ryan conceding there was work to be done around the new rule. Ironically, after so much discussion about clubs no longer being able to bring significant rule changes, particularly playing rules, to fruition, with so much more central co-ordination, the Raheens motion was the only impactful change on the playing front.
The Standing Committee on Playing Rules had a challenging day, losing the debate over a black card for hurling and even failing to assert change around the advantage rule where frees would be given inside the 45-/65-metre line, scoreable positions in hurling and football, unless a clear goalscoring opportunity rose.
That fell short by one per cent of the required 60 per cent, the same margin of defeat the proposed ban on maor foirne suffered the previous night. With just 18 per cent support for the introduction to the black card in hurling – less than the 29 per cent five years ago – that debate will now be warehoused.
Rules chairman David Hassan had argued that cynicism was very prevalent in hurling, a mood that wasn’t mirrored on the floor.
“Current and former players and managers, analysts, most people have come to the conclusion that cynicism is part of hurling. Its presence is well accepted and it’s contradictory not to do anything about it. We shouldn’t conflate what people want with what the game needs. If we don’t get some form of deterrent, we are merely making provision for more of it,” said Hassan.
Hassan had said his committee had tracked 29 ‘take-downs’ in last year’s hurling championship and that some 48 per cent of fouls in the game were pre-meditated. But with little or no illustration of this beforehand, the case was weakened.
With such a heavy defeat though, any deterrent looks remote with GAA president John Horan accepting closure.
“That largely kicks it into touch. We had been approached by the committee to see would I allow it to go back for further consideration, and I said I would if there was any element of support on the floor for the actual move,” said Horan.
“There was meant to be a bit of support there, but it never materialised so it is very hard to rule a referral for something when nobody on the floor spoke in favour of it.”
A Wicklow motion calling for two points to be awarded for a sideline was lost (77-23), so too was a Down motion to extend club games to two periods of 35 minutes each.
Naomh Éanna in Wexford were calling for two nominated players and one official, all wearing distinctive armbands, to be able to approach a referee during a game to query decisions during breaks in play but that fell short with 46 per cent support.
Meanwhile, Horan used his presidential address to raise the issue of inter-county preparation expenditure, a theme already touched on by Ryan in his annual report last week.
Horan’s chief target was the size of backroom teams. “Too many counties have been pushed to the pin of their collar to finance and fund an intercounty operation that is coming at the expense of other equally important projects in games promotion and development in their county,” he warned.
“This should not be seen as a commentary or criticism of players. The emphasis on the team behind the team is out of control.
“There is an industry now built up around county backroom teams with experts and gurus and analysts almost numbering as many people as there are players. Few of this cohort are aligned to the amateur ethos.”
Horan assured delegates that Croke Park would not be picking up the €20m Páirc Uí Chaoimh debt and suggested that the International Rules series, which resumes later this year, was not a factor in enticing GAA players to the AFL.
He also said any form of compensation for those GAA players lost to the Australian game would create a “toxic element”.