Two-time All Star hurling goalkeeper Joe Quaid has called on the GAA to experiment with a new one versus one penalty system.
The GAA have been criticised for creating what Cork County Board chairman Bob Ryan called “an unholy mess” after last week’s intervention in the penalty controversy.
The ongoing saga has been in the headlines for almost a year with goalkeepers like Anthony Nash striking the ball several metres past the designated spot on the 20 metre line.
Last week, the GAA issued a decree that players could no longer strike the ball within the 20m line. They will, though, be allowed to move the sliotar back by up to seven metres, allowing them a run-up.
“The players defending a penalty or free puck awarded on the centre point of the 20m line shall stand on their goal-line and may not move towards the 20m line until the ball has been actually struck,” a GAA statement said. “Lifting the ball with the hurley does not constitute striking the ball’.”
But Quaid believes that a new one versus one approach — with a forward taking on just one player on the line — is a better solution, and would also act as a deterrent as it would discourage defenders from taking the easy option of making a cynical foul, with three defenders no longer allowed on the goal-line.
With the GAA expected to make a permanent change to the penalty rule at next year’s Congress, the Limerick man has called for experimentation.
“I think it would be a great option,” he said, of the one v one proposal. “But in that instance I think the penalty’ would have to be struck from before the 20 metre line to give the goalkeeper any realistic chance.
“But the whole one v one concept would be very appealing and exciting — it would do a lot for the game.”
Referees’ chief Pat McEnaney is also in favour of this move, but it remains to be seen what traction it gets. Privately, meanwhile, the GAA are deeply frustrated at the criticism they have received over this issue.
Sources told the Sunday Independent that a motion to change the penalty taking rule was withdrawn from Congress last February because it would have failed to get approval. After last weekend’s incident, however, when Waterford’s Stephen O’Keeffe ran off his line and charged Nash’s rasping penalty strike down, there was finally a majority acceptance that something needed to be done.
The incident prompted top brass to ask Central Council for an interpretation of the words taken’ and re-taken’ when it came to tweaking the penalty rule and the decision was made that struck’ would be the operative word.
The view in Croke Park is that there is a huge difference between a penalty being taken’ from the 20m line (the action of lifting and then striking beginning on the 20m line) and the ball having to be struck’ from the 20m line (begin your lift further back as long as you strike it on or before the 20m line).
And despite accusations that it will lead to cynical fouling, sources say the GAA believe it has done the right thing. Whether it leads to more turmoil down the road remains to be seen. The prospect of a black card for hurling looks increasingly likely.