GAA Football

Free-taking competition could decide All-Ireland qualifiers

Qualifiers like Derry's clash with Mayo, which ended in extra-time, could have no chance of making it to a replay if new proposals are introduced to separate the teams by a free-taking competition if needed. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

INTER-county football qualifiers and provincial club games could be determined by a free-taking competition if a motion to reduce the instances of replays is passed at Special Congress.

One of seven motions relating to facilitating the playing of club games from Central Council, it would see an end to replays in those games, as well as the knockout stages of the National League.

If the teams are level at the end of extra-time, there would be two additional five minutes periods. If they are still level, a free-taking competition would take place, the rules of which are still be determined.

The GAA could also be set to alter its age grades at club level to match the new system at inter-county level.

A proposal that will go before Special Congress at the end of this month is promoting the alteration of the long-existing age grades of U12, U14, U16 and minor (U18).

They would change to U11, U13, U15 and U17. However, the proposal controversially suggests keeping the lower age eligibility levels as they are currently.

At present, in the case of under-18, players must be out of under-14 football to be eligible.

Central Council is proposing that the eligibility age span for each grade be reduced by one year, meaning that players in their final year at under-14 would not be available for the club's under-17 team.

Meanwhile, short kick-outs in football could become an awful lot more difficult if a motion is passed to make sure all restarts pass the 20-metre line.

A growing trend in recent years has been goalkeepers exploiting a loophole in the existing rule by kicking the ball square or even behind themselves. It allows defenders, who must be outside the 20-metre line when the ball is kicked, to come inside once it has been played and retrieve it.

Speaking to The Irish News in March, head of the Playing Rules Committee, Jarlath Burns, said: “Rather than travelling 13 metres, the kick-out has to actually pass the 20-metre line and that will take a significant area of the field – the first 20 metres – away from the person who wants to hit a short kick-out.

“We think that that will again will be an encouragement for goalkeepers to kick the ball out into the middle of the field.”

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