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Ban on backpasses to goalkeepers set to be next Gaelic football rule debate

October’s GAA Special Congress will debate the experimental rules in Gaelic football.

Cluxton, Morgan and Patton are some of the leading goalkeepers in the game.
Cluxton, Morgan and Patton are some of the leading goalkeepers in the game.
Image: INPHO

THE PROSPECT OF a ban on backpasses to goalkeepers in Gaelic football has been hinted at by GAA President John Horan.

Five experimental rules were approved last November to be trialled in the 2019 pre-season provincial competitions and the Allianz football league.

The handpass rule, which ruled out more than three passes in a row by the hand, was binned before the league commenced but the other four – an 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 – were in play during the spring action in the four divisions.

They are now set to be put forward as motions for the GAA’s Special Congress, that is pencilled in to take place in Páirc Uí Chaoimh later this year on 19 October.

And Horan, speaking yesterday at the 2019 All-Ireland football launch in Scotstown in Monaghan, raised the prospect of a potential debate on bringing in a rule to prevent goalkeepers from receiving backpasses from team-mates.

“You could yeah (see it debated). A proposal on changing the rule doesn’t have to be experimented on. 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.”

Several leading netminders who are comfortable in possession have began to impact more in open play with Tyrone’s Niall Morgan getting on the scoresheet in spectacular style earlier this year in the league.

“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,” stated Horan.

“But my point to you was if the goalkeeper is not there as the safety valve and complying as the extra man coming out that teams will push forward.

“What I’m saying is, it doesn’t have to be trialled, by rule. But we’ll just see what people think. I’m not saying this is going to happen – I’m only saying it’s out there for debate. It’s not a proposal, it’s just out there for debate.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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