GAA to issue 'interpretation' of penalties in hurling
THE GAA will seek to clarify an interpretation of the rules surrounding the taking of penalties in hurling after the latest furore over a strike by Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash.
Stephen O'Keeffe's charge and block on Anthony Nash's penalty in Sunday's Munster quarter-final replay has heightened safety fears about penalties. But no rule change can be addressed until Congress next year and until then referees are prepared to allow O'Keeffe-style charges off the line to block down penalty takers like Nash, who can advance so far because of the elevation they engineer with their lift. Referees seem satisfied that a striking action begins with the lift when initial contact is made and therefore players are free to advance at that point.
That's why Sunday's referee Johnny Ryan did not order a retake of the Nash penalty, which O'Keeffe blocked, having got within a metre of his opposite number.
But the GAA issued a statement last night stating that the Management Committee will recommend to Central Council an interpretation of the rules before the weekend "in respect of the taking of penalty pucks and free pucks from the 20-metre line".
"It is envisaged that this process will be completed as quickly as possible and in advance of this weekend's games," the statement read.
Cork chairman Bob Ryan had called for clarity from Croke Park and has described the liberty given to O'Keeffe on Sunday to rush off his line as "farcical".
Cork are also seething at remarks made by 'Sunday Game' analyst and former Clare hurling manager Ger Loughnane about their relationship with the referee.
Loughnane claimed that Cork put Ryan under pressure during the interval on Sunday over the penalty incident and that they hadn't wanted him to take charge of last year's All-Ireland final replay against Clare.
"Johnny Ryan was absolutely right and in fairness to Johnny Ryan, he stood his ground," said Loughnane of the O'Keeffe incident.
"He was under big pressure today because it's widely believed that Johnny was going to referee the replay of the All-Ireland last year but Cork didn't want him.
"He stood up to that pressure today and came under pressure again at half-time from the Cork officials. At half-time he came under big pressure again – not only from Anthony Nash but from Cork officials as well. But actually, he was right," said Loughnane.
Bob Ryan has said that Cork will not be responding to Loughnane's comments before Sunday's Clare clash.
"We'll say something after that but we're not going to get drawn into this in the week of a game against Clare. That's what Ger would want," he said.
GAA president Liam O'Neill believes the solution could come from moving the penalty spot further out.
"We tried to address this at Congress, but we found that the rule we tried to bring in would have affected all frees. We wanted it for the 21-yard free. Cork vehemently opposed it. We knew that they were going to take it all the way. They said that quite openly," said O'Neill.
"This is not about Anthony Nash, it was called the 'Nash rule' and it was personalised. This is a much more serious issue and it is not just about senior hurling.
"This is about the possibility of a goalie in a juvenile game, faced by a much bigger opponent, because you have a variance of size at juvenile level, I am worried that injuries will happen. We were strangled in our efforts to deal with this.
"What we want to do here is we want the ball placed somewhere outside the 21, ideally in the D somewhere and struck before the 20-metre line. We knew this was going to be a difficulty and the fact was the goalkeeper was within his rights to do what he did."