Tuesday 20 February 2018

Strike rule would pile added pressure onto refs

Clare players prepare to face a free from Anthony Nash
Clare players prepare to face a free from Anthony Nash
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The GAA's reaction to Anthony Nash's metre-eating run-up towards the opposition goal when taking penalties and close-range frees will add to the pressure on referees under a proposal coming before Congress next month.

The days of penalty-takers making several metres before striking the ball will be over if a proposal from the Players Rules' Standing Committee is accepted.

The precise wording of the motion, which was released yesterday, puts the clear onus on the striker to take the penalty or free from a specified spot.

If he gains as little as a metre in the striking action, he will have the free award overturned and the ball thrown in. The wording merely states that it will be an offence "to advance the ball deliberately from the place at which a free puck, penalty puck or sideline puck is to be struck from."

The precise spot is easily recognisable for penalties/20-metre frees and '65s,' but won't be as clearcut for other frees. However, if the taker gains a few yards in the striking action, he will be penalised. The new ruling also means that if penalty-takers want to build up momentum with a run, they will need to start several metres outside the 20-metre line.

If accepted by Congress – and it's virtually certain to win the required approval – the new rule will add to the pressures on referees, who will have to watch very closely if a penalty/free/'65' is taken from the correct position.

If the strike for a penalty is marginally inside the 20-metre line, the taker will be penalised and instead of having to defend against a close-range hit, the offending team will get off with a throw-in.

Among the other motions which will come before Congress in Croke Park next month are:

That interfering with an opponent's headgear be punished with a straight red card.

Proposed by: Playing Rules Standing Committee

Chances of being passed: Excellent

Pulling an opponent's helmet has been on the increase in recent years. It's extremely dangerous and needs to be outlawed.

That match, rather than time bans, be extended to the club scene.

Proposed by: Rules Advisory Committee

Chances of being passed: Good

Match bans have worked well in the inter-county game and it's now proposed that they also apply at club level.

Mind you, there could be issues later when doubts arise as to the details of a specific case. It's much easier to apply the match-ban system at inter-county level, where there are fewer games.

That players not be allowed to wear jerseys numbered higher than the maximum specified.

Proposed by: Rules Advisory Committee

Chances of being passed: It should be good, but who knows?

Where a replacement jersey is required for a player returning to the pitch after treatment, he will either wear a jersey with his original number or one marked with a letter (A, B, C as required).

The aim is to prevent managers naming 26 players (senior panels) on the match programme and then sending on players with higher numbered jerseys.

If a manager wishes to use a player who is numbered higher than 26 on his original squad, he must allocate a jersey numbered 26 or lower on match day and inform the authorities so that the public can be made aware of the change.

That the clock/hooter, proposed by Eugene McGee's review group for introduction to football in this year's senior championships, also apply in hurling.

Proposed by: Central Council

Chances of being passed: Excellent

It would be illogical not to have it in both sports. Otherwise, two games at the same venue on the same day would have different time-keeping systems.

That the minor age limit be reduced from 18 to 17 years.

Proposed by: Monaghan

Chances of being passed: Poor

There have been increasing calls for the underage limits to be amended to U-17 and U-20, but Monaghan are seeking the change at minor level only.

There's logic in their proposal to change the minor limit so that most players weren't playing minor football in their Leaving Cert year, but by retaining the U-21 grade in its current format, it leaves a four-year gap between the two categories. That's most unlikely to win widespread support.

That 26 players be allowed on inter-county match-day parties in all grades.

Proposed by: Limerick

Chances of being passed: Poor

It's currently restricted to 24, except at senior level where 26 are allowed. Given previous discussions on this area, Limerick will need to make a very strong case for an across-the-board increase.

That no restriction be applied to the number of players comprising the match-day party for provincial and All-Ireland club championships.

Proposed by: Roscommon

Chances of being passed: Poor.

Thirty players are currently allowed – there will be little support for an increase.

That players over the age of 15 years be allowed to play in the U-21 grade.

Proposed by: Laois

Chances of being passed: Poor

The age limit is currently 16 years and is likely to be retained.

That counties who exit the All-Ireland senior football championship at the semi-final stage be allowed to return to training on December 8.

Proposed by: Rules Advisory Committee

Chances of being passed: Excellent

Under an anomaly, a team beaten in late August could return to training in December; a team beaten in early September (there are years when the second semi-final is played in September) could not return until December 29.

That referees/linesmen from outside the province of the competing teams be appointed to officiate at all senior inter-county championship games and for All-Ireland championship games in all other grades.

Proposed by: Kildare

Chances of being passed: Poor

There will be strong opposition to the suggestion that officials from the same province as the competing counties should never be allowed to take charge.

That where two teams, who have already met in the provincial championships, are drawn against each other again in Rounds 1,2 3 of the All-Ireland football qualifiers, the winners of the provincial game will have home advantage.

Proposed by: Down

Chances of being passed: Good.

There is logic in Down's proposal as it recognises a victory in the provincial championship as a bonus in the event of the same pairing meeting again.

That no alcohol companies, public houses or off-licenses be allowed to have their names on gear/equipment used by teams under the age of 18.

Proposed by: Connacht Council

Chances of being passed: Excellent

Failure to pass this motion would leave the GAA open to accusations of supporting underage drinking.

That the Leinster hurling championship qualifier, which currently hosts Laois, Antrim Westmeath, Carlow and London, be reduced to four in 2015 and beyond.

Proposed by: Carlow

Chances of being passed: Impossible to call

Voting to cut the number of participants in the Liam MacCarthy tier seems an odd way to promote hurling.

That where a county from a qualifier group in the Leinster hurling championship beats one of the automatic quarter-finalists (currently comprised of Kilkenny, Dublin, Galway, Offaly, Wexford), the qualifier team will replace one of the 'Big 5' in the following season's quarter-finals.

Proposed by: Central Council

Chances of being passed: Excellent

There's clear logic to the proposal.

Irish Independent

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