Saturday 17 March 2018

Testing times in store at Congress

Delegates to deal with over 100 proposals in five hours -- from experimental rules to hooter system

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

FOR an organisation which has a reputation -- largely undeserved in recent times it must be said -- for being slow to change, the GAA is certainly in a mood to challenge the status quo, judging by the deluge of proposals coming before Congress in Newcastle today.

Between 9.0 and 4.0, delegates will consider well over 100 proposals to change rules, regulations, practices and protocols. Their deliberations will break off for 90 minutes for Christy Cooney's presidential address, followed by lunch, which means they will have to deal with around 20 motions to the hour in the time allowed for discussion.

And since the proposer alone is allowed to speak for five minutes, it shows how unworkable the timetable would be if every motion were to be teased out in detail.

It won't happen, of course. Motions of broadly similar substance will be banded together, some will be withdrawn, others will be referred to committees and a few will be ruled out of order. Still, it's an extremely heavy agenda.


The issues range from consideration of the experimental regulations which have been in operation in the National Leagues, to more general issues like whether Croke Park should remain open for rugby and soccer.

One of the dangers of a large agenda is that motions are passed without due consideration, only to come back to cause problems later on.

Remember the mess caused last year by the vote to grant Christy Ring Cup winners automatic promotion to the Liam McCarthy Cup competition, while relegating one from the existing group? It wasn't thought through by Congress, leading to a major controversy.

That mistake was made on a day when Congress had to deal with 42 motions, one-third of today's total.

Indeed, it makes you wonder if there's a better way to do business. Dealing with over 100 proposals in just over five hours is asking the battery hens of Congress to lay an awful lot of eggs. Don't be surprised if the shells are so weak on some of them that they break under the smallest pressure.

In reality, many of the issues coming before Congress today could be dealt with by Central Council if its powers were extended. It would make far more sense too, rather than asking over 300 delegates to discuss issues in such a constrained timespan.


  • Allow Central Council to decide on the use of Croke Park. In effect, this retains the position which has applied since Croke Park was opened up to rugby and soccer at the 2005 Congress. (Roscommon, Clare, Kerry, Westmeath, Meath)

  • In football, a pass is only legal if made with a closed fist. (Central Council)

  • In football, a player who receives the ball from a hand-pass must play it away with the boot. (Clare)

  • A player who makes a catch between the 45-metre lines from a kick-out to be awarded a free kick. (Central Council)

  • Players can be in the opponents' square ahead of the ball in open play. (Central Council)

  • In football, penalty kicks to be taken from 11 rather than 13-metre range. (Central Council)

  • All kick-outs to be taken from the 13-metre line (Central Council)

  • Counties to name 24-man panels five days before inter-county games, allowing the remainder of the panel to return to play for their clubs. (Central Council)

  • In hurling, the penalty for taking a puck-out outside the small square to be a throw-in on the defending team's 20-metre line rather than a '65 to the opposition. (Central Council)

  • Introduce an advantage rule which allows the referee to wait before deciding if the fouled player has gained an advantage. If not, the referee can award a free from the point of the original infringement. (Meath)

  • An official clock to be introduced for inter-county games which will be stopped/started by an official time-keeper on the instruction of the referee. (Meath)

  • A clock/hooter system to be introduced to signal the end of a game. (Wexford)

  • Introduce video officials to decide on issues in the course of a game as requested by the referee. (Tipperary)

  • Extend minor and U-21 games to 70 minutes. (Meath)

  • When play is stopped for injury to a player, it resumes with a free-kick to the team which was in possession at the time of the stoppage. (Leitrim)

  • Two points to be awarded in hurling when a sideline cut goes over the bar. (Tipperary, Armagh)

  • In football, all frees awarded from 20 metres in to be kicked off the ground. (Clare)

  • Sideline kicks in football must be taken from outside the boundary line. (Kildare)

  • Introduce mandatory wearing of gum shields for all players up to minor level in games and training. (Mayo)

  • Recognise the GPA as the official representative body for senior inter-county players. (Central Council)

  • The GAA shall not give special recognition to any group purporting to represent any individuals or grouping within the Association. This is a direct negative to the Central Council's proposal. (Tyrone)

  • Amend All-Ireland SF format to allow provincial winners who lose All-Ireland quarter-finals re-entry against two survivors from the qualifiers. (Dublin, Tyrone).

  • Drop All-Ireland quarter-finals from minor football, returning to the old system where only the four provincial champions were in All-Ireland contention. (Central Council)

  • Scrap the provincial championships in minor and U-21 football. Replace with them with an open draw on a regional basis. (Meath)

  • Replace time bans with match bans for suspended players. (Longford)

  • No relegation from the Liam McCarthy Cup group until after 2013, but counties who win the Christy Ring Cup to be promoted each year. (Central Council).

  • Scrap the All-Ireland inter-county intermediate/junior hurling and junior football championships. (Central Council)

  • Senior provincial championships to start no earlier than the third Sunday in May. (Central Council)

  • End the practice of asking referees to review video clips of incidents in games where they have officiated. (Longford)

  • Allow counties and clubs to display the brand name of more than one sponsor on jerseys and other gear. (Meath)

  • Have competitions for U-12s and younger played with 11-a-side teams, ensuring that all players on the panel are used. (Central Council)

  • Allow Congress to change rules with a three-fifth (60pc) rather than two-thirds (66.7pc) majorities. (Dublin)

  • Reduce the minimum representation for counties to Congress from four to two. (Central Council)

  • The salary and other benefits, including pension contributions paid to the GAA Director General be published in the annual accounts. (Tyrone)

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