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GAA move to clamp down on ball-boy 'feeders'


Conor Clarke, Tyrone

Conor Clarke, Tyrone

Conor Clarke, Tyrone

Goalkeepers will no longer be able to avail of a silver service from ball boys behind their goals, the GAA's Central Competition Controls Committee has decided.

From this week on, all units overseeing championship fixtures have been instructed to provide neutral ball boys at all games.

The ball boys in place must come from a county that is not involved in the match in question and their function, according to the protocol now in place, will be to retrieve balls from behind the goals and leave them in a place where goalkeepers can then access them quickly.

A direct feed between the ball boy and the goalkeeper to shorten the time the ball is out of play will no longer be permitted.

Up to now different committees in charge of overseeing fixtures had different policies towards ball boys.

Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan revealed last week that they were informed that they couldn't have anyone channelling balls to him during their first two matches against Down in Omagh and Newry.

But in Clones last weekend, colleague Conor Clarke, who recently suffered a cruciate ligament injury, was providing the type of service that Morgan claimed Dublin's Stephen Cluxton got in Croke Park, a service Morgan said he was envious of.

Clarke (left) was waving his hands furiously behind Morgan's goals when Monaghan's Kieran Hughes struck a first-half penalty off the post against Tyrone, a clear attempt to distract the kicker. Clarke was subsequently asked to move away from behind the goals.

Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice said earlier this year he had noticed a stark difference between the speed of service of the ball boys when Dublin are behind and in front in Croke Park.

When Dublin were ahead, Fitzmaurice claimed the service from behind opponents' goals slowed down.

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The turnover from kick-outs has become quicker as more and more goalkeepers seek to go shorter with their deliveries to retain possession and it's understood the CCCC have now moved to standardise the service provided.

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