The Doc’s Prescription - GAA Have Square Ball Problems?

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Those who are responsible for making the rules or, indeed, changing the existing rules within the G.A.A., do not appear to have considered a trial and error approach?

I write this because the new “square ball rule” brought in by Congress is, in my opinion and in the opinion of many of the top managers, including Mickey Harte, practically impossible to administer fairly under existing conditions.

The rule briefly states that in open play, if a player enters the small rectangle before the ball has been delivered by the last outfield player in possession, then any score arising must be declared null and void.

In other words, in soccer language, if the player is in the small rectangle before the last pass has been played, he is in an offside position so to speak.

The rule in Gaelic football is very similar to soccer but the difference is that in soccer the vast bulk of the “offside” decisions are made by assistant referees who make such decisions mainly on the position of the last defender. By this stage, you are probably as confused as I am but my point is simple, in that in GAA with the onfield rules being administered by the referee, umpires and linesmen, everything I have seen so far says that all the decisions are being made by the referee.

This is a very difficult task in a game now being played at such a hectic pace. The alternatives which could be easily judged would be to do away with the small rectangle altogether but, no doubt, that too would have its critics.

Whatever changes are made to the rules, surely there should be an imput from the players and managers which doesn’t appear to have occurred on this occasion.