The GAA’s national match officials coordinator Donal Smyth has reminded club football referees of the rule changes ahead of competitive action resuming later this month.
The advanced mark had been experimented with during the Allianz Football Leagues only to be passed into permanent rule at Congress with an amendment.
The 10-minute sin bin for a cynical foul as well as all kick-outs being taken from the 20 metre line was also adopted into rule in Croke Park in February. However, a late addition was the ban on a player who has received a kick-out passing the ball back to the goalkeeper.
Smyth said a YouTube presentation on the rules changes will be distributed for referees and those involved to acquaint themselves with what will now apply in the game.
As regards the pass-back ban, he told gaa.ie: “The ball cannot be kicked back directly to the goalkeeper and it’s specific about the goalkeeper and the free is given from where the goalkeeper receives the ball.
“The other thing there is a slight change in the advanced mark. If that mark is taken inside the small or large rectangle and the player claims the mark he goes back out to the 13 metre line. But if he decides to play on he can be tackled immediately whereas outside the large rectangle he has his four steps (without being tackled).”
For high-profile club games and inter-county matches, the fourth official will also have extra powers. Smyth explained: “Before this, it was always the case where the linesman could call the referee’s attention to an aggressive foul that occurred off the ball. That function now, the sideline official can do that as well. It doesn’t really affect club games because we mostly don’t have independent sideline officials unless it’s a county final or semi-final but at inter-county matches you’ll find that role extended. Referees will have to get their head around that they (as sideline officials) say to referees that an incident has occurred that they haven’t seen and the relevant penalty can be imposed by the referee.”
Match officials will also be asked to complete the GAA’s Covid-19 eLearning module as well as complete the health questionnaire. Smyth accepted referees will be challenged by the lack of games because of the lockdown. “At Christmas, we usually get about eight weeks of a break. Now we have 15 or 16 weeks so it’s going to be difficult for fellas to get back up to speed again.”