Tuesday 21 November 2017

GAA in square ball u-turn

Controversial issue faces freshassault as new ‘playing rules’ committee set to take action

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Moves to change the controversial 'square ball' rule in Gaelic football could commence by the end of this month, it has emerged.

A Central Council motion passed at Congress last April has led to the establishment of a standing committee that will monitor the playing rules on an annual basis.

The establishment of that committee is due to be finalised at the next Central Council meeting in just over two weeks' time.

The committee will have players and managers on board, with the Gaelic Players Association already contacted to propose players as suitable members.

They will have the scope to propose changes to the playing rules at next year's Congress.

Under the terms of the motion passed last April, the standing committee will have to make its proposals known to the October meeting of Central Council.

Counties will have the facility to make proposals to this standing committee ahead of that October meeting.

The controversies over the policing of the 'square ball' have continued all summer, with Kildare exiting the championship under a cloud for the second successive year.

What looked like a perfectly legitimate Tomas O'Connor goal was disallowed early in the second half of last Saturday's All-Ireland quarter-final and almost certainly handed Donegal the initiative.

Ironically, Kildare were one of the few counties to vote in favour of the removal of the 'square ball' rule at the 2010 Congress in Newcastle. A playing rule experiment that allowed players inside the square before the ball had arrived, with the exception of set-pieces, trialled successfully during the 2010 league, but it didn't get sufficient support and provoked even less debate at Congress.

The folly of that decision has been realised all too often over the last 16 months.

The GAA have been tied by a rule which only made it possible to change playing rules every five years, but that was changed at the most recent Congress, providing them with the capacity to move on the 'square ball' issue within the next few weeks.

Irish Independent

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