Derry's main focus will centre on FRC motions
Motion three proposes making Croke Park available for matches in the 2023 or 2027 Rugby World Cups if either event is staged in Ireland. photograph: cyril byrne
Increased sanctioning for dealing with racial abuse on the field of play, approval to open Croke Park for the potential staging of the Rugby World Cup and additional branding on intercounty jerseys are among the 73 motions to be debated at next month’s GAA Congress in Derry.
Yet the main focus for delegates heading for Derry on March 22nd-23rd will inevitably be the motions concerning the proposals of the Football Review Committee (FRC), most of which have already been well aired. However, delegates now know exactly what they’ll be voting for, so there can’t really be any more claims about confusion.
Although typically wide-ranging, there are few if any radical motions, beyond what the FRC has already outlined. All motions numbered four-25 deal specifically with the FRC proposals, as presented by FRC chairman Eugene McGee back in November, then modified slightly last month in consultation with the GAA’s own Rules Advisory Committee.
All such proposals, if passed, will only come into effect on January 1st, 2014, and because they necessitate rule changes, will require a two-thirds majority. Central to all is five of the so-called cynical foul plays, already identified, will be branded by a new “black card”, resulting in the mandatory substitution of the offending player
This will target players that “deliberately pull down an opponent”, or “use abusive or provocative language or gestures to players”, and also “remonstrate in an aggressive manner with a match official”, with the match referee thus obliged to show that player a black card, resulting in his immediate dismissal, and substitution. For any team shown three black cards, all further black cards will mean the player going off with no substitution.
Other issues relating to these black-card offences are proposed in motions 10-14, such as an increase in the number of substitutions in football (from five, to six), with the less controversial aspects of the FRC proposals made in motions 16-25, including “the mark”, the “advantage rule”, the “clean pick-up”, and that a public time clock be introduced in Croke Park and in all grounds used for provincial and All-Ireland series senior football championship games.
Motion 25 also proposes that all adult football games, including club games, will last 70 minutes (35 minutes in each half).
First up, before all that, is motion one, which details the proposed changes to the All-Ireland Hurling Championship, reducing the number of teams that will compete for the Liam MacCarthy Cup from 2014 onwards, with further changes to the structure of the Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups – again the details of which have already been well aired.
They will form what were described as “momentous decisions” by director general Páraic Duffy, at the launch of his annual report in Croke Park this week. Duffy said he was “absolutely supportive” of the FRC proposals, which he described as “a serious attempt to make Gaelic football a better game”.
On the motions to amend the hurling championship, Duffy said: “Most of all, I hope they will stand the test of time and prove to be a lasting and effective solution to the unique issues surrounding the competitive imbalance that exists among county teams at the various levels of our national game.”
Motion three, meanwhile, proposes to give Central Council the power to authorise the use of Croke Park and other stadia in the Rugby World Cup in 2023 or 2027, if either tournament is staged in Ireland. Significantly, there is also the condition the “remainder of rule to remain unchanged”, which would rule out the use of any other county or provincial grounds for Rugby World Cup purposes.
The long-mooted introduction of Hawk-Eye goal line technology is also proposed in motion 51, “for a trial period decided upon by Central Council”, but which will deal with points only, and not with any goal incidents.
The controversial six-day turnaround (whereby some beaten provincial finalists have had to play qualifiers six days later) is addressed in motion 53, which also seeks to give counties greater certainty around championship dates, thus facilitating the playing of club fixtures.
So, finally, to the increased sanctioning for dealing with racial abuse on the field of play, proposed in motion 54, and outlined as both anti-sectarianism and anti-racism: “The association is anti-sectarian and anti-racist and committed to the principles of inclusion and diversity at all levels. Any conduct by deed, word or gesture of sectarian or racist nature or which is contrary to the principles of inclusion and diversity against a player, official, spectator or anyone else, in the course of activities organised by the association, shall be deemed to have discredited the association.”
It is proposed the penalty shall be as prescribed in Rule 7.2(e), which states “the minimum suspension for conduct discrediting the association is eight weeks.”
For a full list of all motions see www.gaa.ie.