Possible ban on back pass could go before special congress

New rule would end the possibility of a goalkeeper becoming involved in outfield play

Tyrone’s Niall Morgan: he  regularly gets  involved in outfield play. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Tyrone’s Niall Morgan: he regularly gets involved in outfield play. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

The exact wording and indeed implementation of a possible ban on the back pass to the goalkeeper in Gaelic football is still unclear although the introduction of a new rule without any experimentation is not without precedent. 

Such a rule had initially been proposed last year by the Standing Committee for Playing Rules, only it didn’t make it past the initial stages. Yet GAA president John Horan announced this week that such a rule change might yet feature at a special congress which will be staged at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on October 19th, along with a vote on a new Tier 2 football format, with a view to implementation in time for the 2020 championship summer.

As things stand the rule changes relating to the attacking mark, kickouts from the 20-metre line, a 10-minute sin-bin instead of dismissal for black card offences and sidelines only being kicked forward are set to go before that special congress in October – all of which were experimented on during the league and the various pre-season competitions. 

Ahead of all that, however, Central Council voted to abolish the experimental limit on the hand pass rule in open play, which was narrowly defeated 25-23. 

“A proposal on changing the rule doesn’t have to be experimented on,” Horan confirmed. “The stats on it, of the 20 games that were analysed for the National League there was an average of 10 back passes to the goalkeeper. 

“If you think about it, if you take out the goalkeeper as the safety valve behind the defence it then allows the team to press forward much more and actually draw them out instead of going back behind.

“It was unfortunate that we didn’t get it into the mix at the particular time, but it’s there for debate now, and it will be put out for people to talk about.”

Top goalkeepers 

Initial support has been questionable at best. Several top goalkeepers such as Rory Beggan from Monaghan and Niall Morgan from Tyrone regularly becoming involved in outfield play. A new rule inhibiting the back pass would effectively end that possibility. 

However, Horan suggested: “Whilst a few of them might go on the attack with the ball it is providing a valve for defensive football, the goalkeeper being there as the extra man.” 

It was also confirmed the GAA intends completing the club championship before December, beginning in 2021, with next year’s competition set to be completed by the end of January.

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