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Will there be a further push to force goalkeepers kick the ball out past the 45-metre line?

It’s been speculated that last Saturday’s change to the kick-out rule is only the start.

FOLLOWING THE RULING at Saturday’s Special Congress, which made it compulsory for kick-outs in Gaelic football to pass the 20-metre line, it’s been suggested that a move to force the ball cross the 45-metre line is imminent.

Stephen Cluxton Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Motion 21, which also obliges that kick-outs must travel 13 metres, breezed through Congress with 82% of the 142 votes.

Some pundits believe the ruling should extend the restriction to the 45-metre line to cut out short-kickouts entirely, as is currently the case in International Rules.

But Jarlath Burns, chairman of the GAA’s Standing Playing Rules committee that recommended motion 21, foresees no further change to the rule.

“If you think about it, there would be no incentive then for the forward facing the goal to stay in his position,” Burns said.

“You have to be very careful that you don’t turn the game into something that is contrived or you don’t end up with unintended consequences.

“It would change the shape of the game and that’s something that we did look at. It 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.”

Jarlath Burns Jarlath Burns, chairman of the GAA's Standing Playing Rules committee Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Dublin delegate Mick Seavers was vocal in his opposition to the motion at Special Congress, suggesting it will “punish those who want to play ball” and those who have been innovative.

Burns said: “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.”

The former Armagh midfielder also said the committee have no plans to adjust the black card rule in the wake of the All-Ireland football final where several high-profile cases of cynicism took place.

“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 lambaste 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.

“I remember reading a book featuring (former GAA president) Joe McDonagh speaking in it. It was 1997 that the book came out. 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 a game where aggression is such a part of it. It’s going to be very, very hard to eradicate it fully but I think the game is better as a result of changes that have been brought in.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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