The controversial and – many would argue – unenforceable ‘square ball’ rule is set to be modified for the championship campaign.
A massive 90% of delegates agreed to the motion proposed at congress in Laois this weekend. The same motion was trialled during the 2010 national league campaign and though it was abandoned; several high profile incidents have forced it back onto the agenda again.
“It is an eminently sensible change and one the game needs,” stated Jarlath Burns, proposing the motion. “It is extremely difficult for a referee to adjudicate (the now revised rule) and virtually impossible (for players) to execute; it requires a player to enter the square after the ball comes in at maybe 70 miles an hour. We are not proposing it for hurling, there doesn’t seem to be a problem there.”
Under the amended rule, in open play, a player is now allowed to enter the small square once the ball has been released. From set play; a player is not allowed enter the small square until the ball has entered the square.
Last year, Tomás O’Connor had a goal wrongly disallowed in the All-Ireland quarter-final against Donegal because of the difficulty in enforcing the old version of the rule.
Congress also ratified the mandatory use of mouth guards for all football matches and practice sessions.
In other business at congress; an overwhelming majority of 84% of delegates voted to have the November/December training ban removed – at senior inter-county level for now.
A further motion seeking to reduce the number of Congress delegates so that each county would have an equal representation was defeated, gaining just 36% support.
A final motion on inter-county transfers was passed ruling that a player seeking a transfer to another county must have played with a club in that county first.
The annual GAA congress was held at Killenard, Co. Laois this year as incoming GAA president Liam O’Neill is a native of the county.