By Peter O'Dwyer
Referees’ chief Pat McEnaney was last night unable to clarify the rules governing the taking of a penalty despite being asked on more than one occasion to do so.
Chairman of the National Referee Committee McEnaney said that a number of anomalies exist in the rules relating to the taking of penalties and stressed that clarification was needed.
However, he struggled to definitively state whether raising the ball constituted taking a penalty, as opposed to actually striking it.
McEnaney did emphasise that all players must be 20 metres from the penalty taker when the shot is being taken but said that is currently “impossible” when players advance the ball towards the 13m line in the action of raising it from the ground.
“There’s a whole lot of anomalies around this particular... ruling and it needs clarification and it needs change,” McEnaney said on Radio Kerry’s Terrace Talk.
“All players must be 20 metres from the penalty... the problem is what do you actually constitute [as] the strike? Is that the first touch when you’re lifting the ball, or is it? The question you must ask is: or is it the actual striking of the ball?” he continued.
McEnaney also said that “you could put an argument” for saying that Waterford goalkeeper Stephen O'Keefe was allowed, within the rules, to advance from his goal line as Anthony Nash lifted the ball during the side’s Munster SHC quarter-final replay on Sunday.
O'Keefe blocked Nash’s penalty having advanced to within just a few metres of the Cork goalie as he blocked the shot. In the aftermath, a melee broke out between both sets of players as confusion reigned over the legitimacy of O'Keefe’s tactics.
McEnaney said that the solution, as he sees it, is to introduce a rule that says a penalty taker must strike the free from behind the 20m line.
“What we need to do very, very simply... [is] that we’ve a clear rule in the rule book that states you must strike the ball from the 20m line, in other words you cannot cross over the 20m line,” he said.
He also suggested that removing the two additional defenders from the goal line when defending a penalty could be an option; leaving just the goalkeeper to attempt to save the shot at goal.
McEnaney dismissed speculation too that Cork influenced the selection of last year’s All-Ireland final replay referee to prevent Johnny Ryan taking charge.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Sunday Game, former Clare boss Ger Loughnane made the suggestion but this was last night dismissed by McEnaney and other GAA officials who reiterated the point that counties have no choice when it comes to the appointment of referees.
The former All-Ireland referee also said that he would like to see the number of hand-passes in Gaelic football reduced.
“I would love to go back to the old traditional hand-pass and I would like to limit it to three. I think that is one we need to change.”