Referees keep close watch on time wasters

The duration of most inter-county football and hurling games is expected to increase from tomorrow’s Allianz Football League openers because of new time-keeping guidelines.

Referees have been instructed to stop their watches for a number of matters such as substitutions, goalkeepers taking frees further up the field, and the use of HawkEye score technology in Croke Park.

In a bid to curb time-wasting, match officials have been told to allow approximately 20 seconds per substitute and the same amount for a player like Stephen Cluxton making his way forward to take a long-range free at goal or 45. About 30 seconds will be added each time HawkEye is called upon.

“We’ll be instructing the referees that they must stop their watches for those things to happen, from now on, basically,” explained the GAA’s national match officials coordinator Patrick Doherty. “So from now on, the referees will be instructed to stop their watches and the expectation is that that’s the length of time it will take for those stoppages.”

Substitutions, not previously determined as stoppages, have been used on several occasions as a means of killing the clock but such gamesmanship won’t be as easy now.

It’s possible that in a football game where each team makes six second-half substitutes there could be four minutes of additional time regardless of other incidental stoppages and injuries.

However, Doherty said the referees body don’t anticipate the duration of matches to be “anything particularly longer” because of substitutes.

“Referees, you’ve seen, even in games where there are no stoppages, there’s been two minutes at the end of a half.

“HawkEye is certainly different; we haven’t been stopping the clock for HawkEye. It has been taking a bit of time so that’s certainly different and we haven’t been stopping the clock for the goalkeepers coming forward.”

Meanwhile, it was yesterday confirmed the mark in Gaelic football will be one of the 65 motions at next month’s Congress despite not having been trialled in its current guise. The playing rules committee have proposed that a player who catches a ball cleanly from a kick-out on or past the 45 metre line can choose to take a free or play on. Replicating the rule that has existed in International Rules since 2014, the proposal is aimed at safeguarding the art of high-fielding in the game. However, as it has not been tested at senior inter-county level, the chances of the motion receiving a two-thirds majority at Congress appear slim.

The playing rules committee’s other recommendation calls for an amendment to one of the three cynical fouls under the black card. As it stands, only a deliberate body collide warrants a black card but the group want to see any purposeful attempt to collide with an opponent, be it with their arms or legs, deemed such an offence.

Carlow and Roscommon’s All-Ireland SFC restructure proposals have been included on the agenda along with the Central Council-endorsed “B” championship. Should the second-tier competition receive two-thirds backing, the counties’ motions will be withdrawn.

Among the burnout and fixtures motions is the plan to bring forward both All-Ireland senior finals by two weeks. It means the All-Ireland football final would take the current date of the hurling decider with the hurling final moving to August. The only exception would occur when there are five Sundays in September where the football final would be scheduled for the second Sunday of the month.

Cork secretary Frank Murphy, in his brief as head of the rules advisory committee, will present 26 housekeeping motions to Congress.

One of them would empower a county board to nominate a club to represent the county in a provincial championship in the event the county championship is not completed and they are the only remaining team eligible to play in the province.


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