Sixty-three motions will be voted on at Congress in Croke Park this weekend. Sixteen of those are proposed changes to playing rules — as the year is a multiple of five, clubs are entitled to put forward proposals regarding Gaelic football and hurling. We assess how the prominent playing rules motions will fare:
To empower the sideline official to bring to the attention of the referee, during a break, play instances of fouled play that the referee hasn’t noticed (Pomeroy Plunketts, Tyrone).
Verdict: Winner. There is a lot of sympathy for referees right now and that should manifest itself in the opening motion vote.
To allow team captains and managers ask the referee to consult with HawkEye/HawkEye official about validity of a score or awarding of a free/sideline/wide/45/65 or square infringement. Each team would be limited to two failed challenges (Limerick).
Verdict: Loser. The motion could have been worded better, as HawkEye is only used for score detection technology. Premier League’s experience with VAR will put off many delegates.
To ban the role of the maor foirne (Playing Rules Committee).
Verdict: Winner. John Kiely made a strong argument to retain the running selector earlier this week, but after some high-profile incidents in the last 24 months there is a mood to reduce the number of pitch entries by non-players.
To clarify that the football or sliotar can be carried for a maximum of two seconds before it is played (Montreal).
Verdict: Loser. A lot of sense in this recommendation from the Canadian club, as it would end debates about steps and make life a whole lot easier for referees, but it will be difficult to explain to people that it is better than what’s there at present.
To extend the temporary substitution to a player who has suffered a head injury (St Rynagh’s, Offaly).
Verdict: Loser. A proposal put forward with the best intentions, but it’s one that is open to abuse. Besides, the GAA’s concussion protocols are strong.
To ban the practice of a player receiving a kick-out passing it back to the goalkeeper (Raheens, Kildare).
Verdict: Loser. A thought-provoking recommendation that could prompt more goalkeepers to kick medium to long. However, it may be felt there has to be a release valve for teams facing a full-pitch press.
To amend the advanced mark so that a player winning one in the large or small rectangle can be tackled immediately if he elects to play on (Playing Rules Committee).
Verdict: Winner. The advanced mark is a flawed rule and this is only a small improvement, but a necessary one.
To allow for the appointment of sideline (fourth) officials across the board (Rules Advisory Committee).
Verdict: Winner. Endorsed by Central Council, this has a great chance of passing, despite concerns it may not be practical in some situations.
To increase the value of a pointed sideline cut from one to two points (Hollywood, Wicklow).
Verdict: Loser. This old chestnut. As fine a skill as it is, the sideline is an unchallenged shot at the posts. If hurling is fine the way it is, as a lot of the traditionalists argue, then this won’t be supported.
To extend all adult club league and championship matches from 60 to 70 minutes (St Malachy’s Castlewellan, Down).
Verdict: Loser. This was brought forward by the Football Review Committee and was shot down. There’s little indication to suggest this idea won’t suffer a similar fate.
To apply extra time to All-Ireland senior semi-finals that are tied at the end of normal time (St Ita’s, Cork).
Verdict: Loser. Although games were added to the All-Ireland SHC and SFC competitions in recent years, replays are now seen as more nuisances than moneymakers.
To introduce the black card/sin bin to hurling for a number of cynical fouls (Playing Rules Committee).
Verdict: Loser. Predominantly football counties have a major say in this, but then they often take their lead from the hurling ones. Don’t be surprised if it’s withdrawn from the Clár.
To allow a referee award a free instead of advantage when the foul has been committed in a scoring area. Guidelines for such are inside 45m for football, inside or on 65m for hurling. (Playing Rules Committee).
Verdict: Uncertain. It might be argued that hurling referees were already applying this motion last weekend. The fallout from those games in Croke Park and Páirc Uí Chaoimh may impact the outcome of this one.
To designate two players and a team official (wearing armbands) with the right to speak to the referee before or after a game, as well as half time, about issues in relation to the game. The said players can also approach the referee during breaks in play. (Naomh Éanna, Wexford).