Former referee Collins brings concerns to Congress

File photo of a previous Congress.

Former inter-county referee Paddy Collins hopes to bring several motions to Congress next month concerning illegitimate practices in matches.

As 2015 is a playing rules year, clubs are permitted to put forward proposals. The four-time All-Ireland SFC final referee, via his club St Loman’s in Mullingar, was successful in having a number of recommendations passed by the Westmeath County Board last month. They are being assessed by the motions committee ahead of the GAA’s gathering in Cavan’s Slieve Russell Hotel next month.

Collins is calling for a distinction be made to the hand-pass in Gaelic football: that there must be “no propulsion of the ball by the non-striking hand during the execution of the pass”.

He also proposes all free kicks and pucks be taken from where the foul occurred. He also wants Congress to address the habit of referees discussing the validity of scoring attempts with their linesmen.

As he explained: “Nowadays, it’s common practice for referees to consult with linesmen with regard to the validity of a point. It’s not the function of a linesman to do that. They don’t have powers, only duties.

“None of their duties are to assist the referee in determining whether there’s a score or not. But it happens regularly and accepted from the highest level in the Association that it should happen.

“I’ve an open mind on whether that should be the case or not but as it stands at the moment it’s absolutely, implicitly stated that the linesman has no function in regards to this.”

Collins cited an article by Dr Conor O’Mahony in this newspaper last July when, writing about the penalty controversy in hurling, O’Mahony referred to the Latin maxim: “expressio unius est exclusio alterius” (to express one thing is to exclude another).

“In the rule with regard to the scoring, it states the referee may consult with the umpire so by definition the linesman is excluded.

“That, I believe, has a standing in law as well — to express one thing is to exclude another. So if you express in rule that the umpire shall be consulted on scores then you automatically exclude the linesman.”

Collins believes there are other habits that have crept into the game that conflict with the rules of the game as per the GAA’s Official Guide. “There are practices that are not permitted according to rule.

“If the motions are in order there are opportunities for Congress to approve or disapprove of some of the practices that have become common in the game.

“I don’t have a view of whether they should approve them or not but at least Congress will have opportunity to debate the practices.

“By my reckoning, some of them are not permissible. But let Congress decide. If they want them to continue, they will have to make an amendment to rule.

“If they don’t want them to continue then somebody says ‘stop, you can’t do this’ even though it’s a very seductive idea to do it.”


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