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GAA set to backtrack on plans for new timing system

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It's five years since Congress supported a Wexford motion, calling for the introduction of a clock/hooter to end halves

It's five years since Congress supported a Wexford motion, calling for the introduction of a clock/hooter to end halves

SPORTSFILE

It's five years since Congress supported a Wexford motion, calling for the introduction of a clock/hooter to end halves

The clock/hooter system to signal the end of halves in GAA games, which was due to come into operation for this year's championships, may be scrapped altogether.

In a dramatic U-turn, Central Council are expected to submit a motion to Congress next month, calling for the rule which covers the clock/hooter to be deleted.

The rule was added to the Official Guide only last year but may now be binned without ever being implemented.

Reservations

This follows a discussion at Central Council last Saturday, where reservations were expressed about the practicalities of a time-keeping system, which has applied successfully in ladies football for several years.

The introduction of the clock/hooter has been twice approved by Congress (2010 and 2013) but now faces a third vote. It could well be lost if Central Council, which also includes GAA Management Committee members, brings all of its considerable influence to bear on the debate.

The successful 2010 proposal was later vetoed by Central Council on the basis of cost and practicality, but when the 2013 motion, sponsored by the Football Development Committee, drew approval by a large majority, it seemed certain that a new-time keeping system was on the way.

It involved stopping a public clock, which was to be fitted at all county grounds, for necessary breaks and ending halves by sounding a hooter once the 35-minute mark had been reached.

The system was trialled in third-level competitions early last year, but a decision was taken in May not to apply it to the All-Ireland championships, pending further analysis.

A motion will come before Congress next month proposing changes to the new rule, in order to make provision for the clock to be stopped during substitutions and for the protocols to be followed once the hooter has sounded.

That is necessary in order to avoid controversy if a ball in flight when the hooter sounded delivered a score.

However, various other complications were raised at Saturday's Central Council meeting, resulting in a proposal to scrap the new clock/hooter rule altogether. That will come as a major surprise to the majority of Congress delegates who supported it so enthusiastically two years ago.

In effect, that would mean retaining the current time-keeping system, which has come under repeated criticism on the basis that many referees do not add enough stoppage time at the end of halves. The clock/hooter was meant to sort out that anomaly,

Irish Independent