Wednesday 17 January 2018

GPA look to take timekeeping out of referees' hands

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The GPA intend to take a greater stakeholding in game-related issues into the future.

It follows their annual general meeting on Friday last, prior to their awards ceremony in the Citywest Hotel, when two motions were passed that relate to the running of the games.

It is also understood that a discussion on the moratorium on training for all inter-county teams in November and December also took place with views expressed than a change should be made.

This, however, was not formalised into a motion but GPA proposals on the ban could be brought forward at a later date.

A staggered pre-season start, aligned with how far a county team had advanced in the previous summer's championship, could form the core of any proposal.

The players' body passed two motions, one backing the introduction of video technology at senior games where venues deem it practical, the other calling for timekeeping to be taken out of the hands of referees.

Referees have been split on technology and timekeeping issues but with a couple of proposals due to go before management in the next few weeks, technology could move a step closer.

Experienced referee Pat McEnaney says he has no issue with timekeeping being taken out of referees' hands.

Pointing out that there were no major timekeeping controversies this year, McEnaney believes timekeeping has worked better since referees began specifying to fourth officials how much added-time they intended to play.

"Anything that lessens the load on the referee I would be in favour of. I'd be happy with the way referees deal with timekeeping now but if there is a better way, like a separate timekeeper, then I'd back that," said McEnaney.

McEnaney added he would have no personal objection to technology being used at games either.

He was involved in one of the major controversies of the summer when Benny Coulter goal was allowed by him and his officials in the All-Ireland semi-final between Down and Kildare despite Coulter's presence in the square.

"I feel controversy over square-balls could have been removed if the rule experiment used during the league had been adopted at Congress. A lot of referees would have been happy if the square ball rule was done away with," he said.

The GPA have no facility to advance their motions to annual Congress so last Friday's work is really only a broad consensus.

But with official recognition and funding now secure and welfare services being rolled out, the GPA intend being more pro-active on helping to develop the games.

Irish Independent

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