Burns: Tweak kick-out rule but don't ban the back-pass
Jarlath Burns, chairman of the GAA's Playing Rules Standing Committee, has urged support for a tweak to the kickout regulations, making it obligatory for the delivery to pass the 20-metre line.
It will come before a Special Congress on September 30, where the main item on the agenda will be the revised format of the hurling championships.
The Rules Committee are taking the opportunity to table the kickout amendment, closing off a loophole which is being exploited on a regular basis.
The current rule stipulates that the receiver must be 13 metres from the kick but does not state in which direction. That has led to goalkeepers kicking the ball sideways or backwards from the 13-metre line, with a colleague coming in from outside the 20-metre line to collect.
It reduces entertainment levels, since there's less chance of the attacking team disrupting the kick-out strategy. The new proposal would make it more difficult for the defending team to retain possession. Burns believes it's a worthwhile change.
"It's only a small tweak but it would make a difference for the better," he said.
There will be disappointment in some quarters that other changes are not being proposed, including a ban on passing back to the goalkeeper. Support has also emerged in recent times for making in compulsory for all free-kicks to go forward.
Burns said while removing the option of passing back to the goalkeeper might, in theory, appear progressive it carried a negative dimension too.
"It would take the goalkeeper out of the attacking side of the game, except for kickouts. A goalkeeper can open up play if he gets a back-pass - surely that's good? Changing rules might look like the right thing but you've got to guard against unintended consequences," he said.
That applies to making it obligatory for all frees to be kicked forward.
"You would actually reward the defending team by doing that. They can fill the target area because they know the ball has to go forward, whereas when you allow the kicker to go backwards, it can open up the angles. Players don't kick frees back towards their own goal to be negative," said Burns.
His committee was responsible for the introduction of the 'mark', which allows a player who catches a kick-out outside the '45' to either play on or take a free kick.
It has proven quite successful, despite coming under attack before its introduction in January.
"Some people were complaining about it before they even saw it in action, which was a bit ridiculous," said Burns.