GAA votes to accept new penalties for cynical fouling

Congress decides rules will be trialled in 2021 intercounty hurling and football season

Motion 20 stipulated (in hurling) both the award of a penalty and a sin binning when a player deprives an opponent of a goal-scoring opportunity by committing one of three specified infractions. File photograph: Inpho

Motion 20 stipulated (in hurling) both the award of a penalty and a sin binning when a player deprives an opponent of a goal-scoring opportunity by committing one of three specified infractions. File photograph: Inpho

 

The GAA has voted to accept new penalties for cynical fouling. After an intense debate, the motion was carried by 168-108 or 61-39 per cent.

Motion 20 stipulated both the award of a penalty and a sin binning when a player deprives an opponent of a goal-scoring opportunity by committing either a black-card foul in football, which already carries a sin bin sanction, or in hurling one of three specified infractions. It would be trialled in this year’s intercounty season.

To merit a sin bin and a penalty award in hurling, the infraction that prevents the goal-scoring opportunity will have to be within the 20-metre line or its arc and be one of three specified fouls on an opposing player who has a goal-scoring opportunity: pulling down an opponent, tripping an opponent with the hand, arm, leg, foot or hurley or to use the hurley in a careless manner.

The motion was proposed by former intercounty referee Willie Barrett, who pointed out that over the past four seasons, goal scoring had declined in the championships.

“A contributing factor has been undoubtedly cynical play. In the 2020 championship we had goal scoring opportunities denied by cynical play in both football and hurling in the provincial championships and the All-Ireland series, including the hurling final.”

Limerick’s John Cregan led the opposition in calling for the matter to be deferred. He said that the proposal required a referee to determine three issues: “where it happened, was it cynical and had the player a goal scoring opportunity. We may or may not have leagues this year so we could end up trialling it in the championship, which would be unprecedented.”

He sought to defer the motion until a special congress could be held later in the year and that maybe video technology might be considered.

Cregan was supported by Paul Flynn of the Gaelic Players Association, whose members had voted against the idea.

Galway, Kilkenny and Westmeath also opposed. Pat Kearney, from Galway, said that it would be “a big change to make with a truncated congress” and called for it to be deferred.

Support was forthcoming from Cork chair Marc Sheehan, who described cynical play as “a significant ongoing issue in the game”.

Leinster chair Pat Teehan said that such fouling was in danger of “becoming an acceptable part of our game”.

Offaly and Wexford also spoke in favour of the trial. Michael Duignan, Offaly chair and RTE panellist, said that he had been involved in hurling all his life. “The amount of cynical fouling is far different now and far more prevalent. The skilful player has to be protected.”

Both Tony O’Halloran of London and Kildare’s Mick Gorman made the point that they had been of the impression that any contentious issues would not go before the remote congress but be held until conditions made it possible for a special congress to be held.

The president replied that he had put this issue to Central Council, which had voted to proceed with the motion. He determined that the vote should go ahead.

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