A wide ranging review of the current state of Gaelic Football has been published, with a number of proposals to be considered by the GAA.
The report, carried out over a number of months and based on a survey of over 3,000 people, was produced the the Football Review Committee, chaired by Eugene McGee.
Over 60 matches were analysed - 30 from the 2001/02 season and 30 from the 2011/12 - with the changes in the game over the last decade taken into consideration.
A particular focus is the rise of possession football over recent years.
The average time that a team holds possession is now around 20 seconds - double what it was 30 years ago. The decline of long kicking and greater use of the handpass are the obvious reason for this change.
The report found a 43% drop in foot-passes over 30 metres during the past ten years, with only 10% of foot-passes now going more than 30 metres.
The issue of timekeeping has been considered in depth by the committee. It was found that kick-outs and frees now account for around 40% of game time.
At inter-county senior games, the ball is now only in play for 46% of total time - translating to 33 minutes of actual game time.
The lack of a clearly defined tackle is something that has long been an issue in football, and 73% of those surveyed said this remains a key source of concern.
- A 'mark' to be awarded for any clean catch of a kick-out on or beyond the 45-metre line. Opposition must retreat 10 metres. Five second limit for taking kick.
- New definition of tackle to say tackle must be aimed at the ball, not the player. Tackler may use body to confront player (shoulder-to-shoulder charge still permitted) but other deliberate bodily contact is forbidden
- Number of substitutions permitted per team to be increased from five to six.
- Duration of all adult matches to be 70 mins (currently 60 for club games).
- New clearly defined Advantage Rule, with referee to raise arm upright for duration of advantage.
- Clean pick-up should be permitted, subject to the player being in an upright position.
- Points can be scored with open hand as well as fist
- Public clock to be introduced in Croke Park and all grounds used for provincial and All-Ireland series matches (similar to Ladies football).
- All adult games (club and inter-county) to be 70 mins
- Enforcement of rules surrounding field incursions by staff - play should only be stopped for serious injuries
- Distinction between Accidental and Deliberate fouls - only deliberate fouls would lead to a card being issued.
- Players issued with a yellow card to be replaced (substituted) for the rest of the game.
- After a team receives three yellow cards, no substitution of further yellow-carded players (i.e. team will be down a player).
-- If a player who commits a foul has the ball he must place the ball on the ground immediately and retreat the required distance. Failure to do so should attract a 30-metre sanction.
- The CCC, rather than the County Board, should have ultimate control for fixtures in each county to improve fixture congestion.
- Phased introduction of mandatory coaching qualifications for managers of adult club and county teams.
- Manager’s Charter to become a formal agreement
- GAA to publish laypersons guide to playing rules to bring 'clearer understanding' of rules to a wider audience
- Recruitment drive for referees among recently retired players
- Referees should go to each team dressing room to introduce themselves to the players before every club and county game
Speaking about the proposals, Eugene McGee said: ‘These are changes which are meant to enhance the quality of Gaelic football and make it more enjoyable for players and spectators.
They should also make the game more attractive to young players which is very important for the promotion of the game. Practically all those proposals had majority support when we consulted the wider football public and we are confident we will all enjoy a better quality of football as a result”.
President Liam Ó Néill thanked the committee for their work and welcomed the debate that their findings will generate.
He said: “We are very fortunate to be able to call on individuals of the caliber of Eugene McGee and his committee members who have worked tirelessly to oversee a consultative process about football that has been without rival.
“Their interest in the game is huge and their findings are thought provoking.
"In many ways the contents of this report confirmed what we already knew; that the game of football is a fantastic spectacle but if minor changes would tidy up some aspects of playing rules to further enhance it, it is incumbent on us to have this debate.”