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Burns defends ‘reasonable’ new kick-out rule

Ball must now cross 20-metre line under new directive

Fresh from his success at Saturday’s special congress in placing restrictions on the short kick-out in football, Jarlath Burns, chair of the Standing Committee on Playing Rules, has said that there are no plans to pursue a further requirement that kick-outs must cross the 45-metre line.

The change that was accepted at the end of the congress when motion 21, obliging kick-outs to travel not less than 13 metres and outside the 20-metre line, secured 82 per cent of the 142 votes.

Dublin delegate Michael Seavers opposed saying that the change would, “condense our playing areas between the 21 and 45 yard lines. This does not reward the people who want to play ball; this is helping people who can’t play ball properly.”

Asked about proposals to extend the restriction to the 45-metre line, as is the case in international rules, Burns was unconvinced.

“You have to be very careful,” he said, “that you don’t turn the game into something that is contrived or you don’t end up with unintended consequences. It is maybe something that could be trialled at a later stage but it’s not something that we have planned. We just thought it was a bridge too far.

“If a forward is facing the goal and he knows that the ball has to cross the 45, there’s no incentive for him to be in that area so what they would do is maybe four out of the six would hang around the middle of the field and it would make it even more congested.”

He had introduced the motion by saying that the initiative would be “a slight discouragement” to goalkeepers going short with re-starts.

“I understand what Michael Seavers was saying, that you are limiting the space that a goalkeeper has to kick the ball out but, again, what we have found is, if you are reasonable as opposed to radical you will get things through Congress.”

He was also asked about any plans to address the type of scenes evident at the end of September’s All-Ireland final when various incidents of calculated misbehaviour took place. In response Burns said that his committee had to be careful about over reacting and he referenced the progress made in addressing the problem.

“People have come up to us and you can’t really knee-jerk on the basis of cynicism in the last five or 10 minutes of the All-Ireland final. I don’t think that’s something that our committee is going to change, perhaps the next one but I definitely think that there has been a fair change in the game and the attitude towards the game.

“People lambast the black card and I think the black card, while it’s not nice when somebody gets a black card and you don’t want to see anybody going off on a black card, particularly in the later stages of the championship, is a temperament sanction and it deals with the actual player himself having to prepare his temperament to make sure he doesn’t carry out any of the infractions that we see.”

He referred to remarks made by former GAA president, the late Joe McDonagh, 20 years ago.

“I took a photo of his comment and he said there was too much pulling and dragging in the game, too many stoppages and we needed to deal with it. I think that by and large, we are dealing with it. It is going to be hard to eradicate in an aggressive game where aggression is such a part of it but I think the game is better as a result of changes that have been brought in.”