Hurling sin-bin would increase goal chances but might not get required vote

Key motion at GAA Congress to cut down on cynical fouls needs 60% support to pass through
Hurling sin-bin would increase goal chances but might not get required vote

A red card is flashed in last season's Co-Op Superstores SAHC clash between Kanturk and Charleville. Picture: Larry Cummins.

THE upcoming virtual Annual Congress will see some key decisions taken remotely on the immediate future of Gaelic Games.

The headline-grabber on the last weekend of February will be the motion on punishing cynical play in hurling. The penalty for such a crime will be a penalty and a stint in the sin-bin for the transgressor.

The proposal, for fouls committed within the 20-metre line and semi-circle arc that deny goal-scoring opportunities, requires 60% backing. That cynicism is defined as when an attacking player is "pulled down, tripped with hands, arm, leg, foot, or hurley, or there is careless use of the hurley".

There has been strong anecdotal support for the motion in recent weeks. And we've all seen examples even in underage games where players instinctively chop down opponents heading towards goal, let alone the coached approach to the dark arts at adult level.

However, there's a difference between acknowledging the issue and then voting through such a radical rules change. 

Funnily enough, it might benefit Cork hurling, given lightning-fast forwards are in plentiful supply and defenders capable of pole-axing the opposition dangermen aren't.

Speaking to Cork captain Patrick Horgan about the topic recently, he was content to leave hurling as it is.

"I wouldn't be interested in a player getting a sin bin or a black card.

"I think we're trying to change way too much about the game we all fell in love with.

"I don't understand why we're trying to bring in this yellow, red, black, pink... there's all sorts of every card now. You'd have to do a double-take to see 'am I sent off for five minutes or 10 minutes?' 

If a foul is worthy of a yellow card or a red card fair enough but not a sin-bin.

"The goals are probably up if anything in the championship overall and if anything happens at one end it can happen at the other, so it all levels out over the course of the season. I could sit here as a forward and say if I get pulled down the back should be sent off but your own team are probably going to end up doing that at some stage of the year as well.

"It comes around for everyone but that's just the game. I wouldn't change it."

We'll wait and see what the virtual attendees decide but an increase in goal-scoring chances surely has an obvious appeal in a sport where point-tallies have shot up to the detriment of action around the square.

Some of the far-reaching proposals on championship restructure, brought forward by the Fixture Calendar Review Task Force (FCRTF), are off the clár. That means 37 of the original 47 motions will be voted on virtually.

FOOTBALL OVERHAUL

The GAA pushing back the FCRTF reform makes sense, as it's a topic that requires the type of robust and transparent debate that's not possible in the online arena. 

There are four options for the football championship, including equally breaking the four provinces into groupings of eight, based on league placings, and a league-style championship across the summer, with the provincial series earlier in the spring on a standalone basis. 

Tipp landing the Munster crown, much to Cork's disappointment, and Cavan's unexpected Ulster triumph, were GAA highlights of 2020 but can't mask the obvious problem with a system whereby one competition can be decided by two wins while another involves four matches, and often tougher tests in those.

A special congress next autumn will now handle this area, though county representatives will this weekend decide on retaining the split-season between club and county, which would mean the All-Ireland finals concluding by the end of July.

Larry McCarthy was voted in as GAA president last year and takes over from March. Picture:  INPHO/Ken Sutton
Larry McCarthy was voted in as GAA president last year and takes over from March. Picture:  INPHO/Ken Sutton

The Annual Congress will also see Bishopstown native Larry McCarthy, long domiciled in New York, take over from John Horan as president for a GAA three-year term.

Other interesting motions to be voted on include: 

A 16-team limit for senior county championships; 

To remove U20 hurling semi-finals and restrict senior player eligibility for that grade; 

Defined dates for post-primary and third-level finals.

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