5 proposed Gaelic football rule changes finalised before taking the next step

THE GAA’S STANDING committee on playing rules (SCPR) have finalised the five new rule changes that they’re experimenting with in Gaelic football.

Aidan O’Shea and James McCarthy in the 2017 All-Ireland final.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

A restriction in handpasses, a plan to have all sidelines kicked forward, the introduction of an attacking mark, the implementation of a sin-bin and a new kick-out rule involving zoning have all been considered since the original list was issued on 2 October.

Set to be fully trialed in 2019, there have been some amendments made to the new sin-bin and kick-out proposals. A black card will now lead to 10 minutes off the field of play, while all kick-outs taken from the 20-metre line now need to clear the 45.

The committee engaged  in a consultation process during the month of October, dealing with players, coaches, referees and officials, which ‘elicited genuine engagement by many,’ according to the GAA. 

Nine trial games were played, featuring teams at every level, and ongoing one-on-one engagements with referees and the referee’s development committee took place, as well as numerous other SCPR consultations and meetings.

The proposed playing rules for experimentation will now go before An Coiste Bainistíochta and Central Council at their respective meetings on 23 and 24 November.

Should they be supported, it’ll then be decided how many of the rules will be trialled in the pre-season competitions, some of which begin in December, and next year’s Allianz Football League.

Here is the SCPR’s “final, considered position” and the finalised list of proposals to go forward:

1. Handpass

To introduce a restriction of three consecutive passes of the ball with the fist or open hand by players of the team in possession.

Kerry’s David Clifford hand passes the ball.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Penalty: Free kick from where the foul occurred except as provided under the Exceptions in Rule 2.2.

2. Sideline Kick

The ball shall be played forward from the kick except where the kick is inside the 20m line of the opposing team.

Penalty: Cancel side-line kick. Throw-in the ball in accordance with Rule 2.2 Exception (v)

3. The Advanced Mark 

To extend the application of the mark to the clean catching of the ball inside a 45m line from a kick in play (i.e. not from set-play) delivered by an attacking player on or beyond the opposing team’s 45m line, that travels a minimum of  20 metres and without it touching the ground.

The application of the mark shall be standardised as follows: 15 seconds shall be allowed for a free to be taken from a mark.

If the referee determines that the player who makes the mark has been injured in the process and unable to take the kick, the referee shall direct the player’s nearest team mate to take the kick, but this may only be allowed in exceptional circumstances.

A player shall signify he is taking a mark by immediately raising an arm upright.

A player that ‘plays on’ may be challenged/tackled.

A score may be made from a free awarded for a mark in all cases.

Brian Fenton and Colm Cavanagh contest a high ball in this year’s All-Ireland final.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

In the case of a mark being awarded to an attacking player on or inside the 13m line, the free, if availed of, shall be taken from the point on the 13m line directly in line with where the mark is awarded.

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In the case of a mark being awarded to a defending player on or inside the 13m line, the free kick, if availed of, shall be taken from the point where the mark is awarded.

The normal rules governing free-kicks shall apply (e.g. players being 13m from the ball before it is kicked).

Exception: A free-kick from a mark shall be taken from the hand(s) only.

4. The sin-bin 

To have a penalty on the day for a black card Infraction by ordering off the offending player for ten minutes in a sin-bin.

The 10 minutes shall commence with the ordering off to the sin-bin and shall end on the expiry of the 10 minutes, irrespective of delays.

The 10 minutes shall be monitored by the 4th Official, where operating, and otherwise by the Referee.

The player may only re-join the game at a break in play and on the instruction of the fourth official or referee.

A subsequent black card Infraction shall be penalised by the showing of a black card followed by a red card.

Armagh’s Mark Shields is black carded by referee David Gough.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

In this case there shall be no substitution allowed.

  • The maximum number of substitutions in normal time to return to five.
  • The duties of a Referee and Sideline Official to be amended in accordance with the main proposal.

5. Kick-out

The kick-out shall be taken off the ground from a point on the part of the 20 m line that forms the semi-circular arc.

The ball shall not be played by a defending player until the ball has crossed the 45m line (nearest the kick-out point) or is played by an opposing player.

All players, other than the Goalkeeper (and another player if the goalkeeper is not taking the kick-out) shall be outside the 20m line, outside the arc and 13m from the ball until it has been kicked.

Penalties: For another player on the team taking a kick-out to play the ball before it has crossed the 45m line (nearest the kick-out point) or has been played by an opposing player:

  • Cancel kick-out
  • Throw in the ball on defenders’ 20m line in front of the scoring space.

For an opposing player not being outside the 20m line, outside the arc and 13m from the ball when it is kicked:

  • Free kick 13m more advantageous than place of original kick-out.

Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

For another player on the team taking a kick-out not being outside the 20m line, outside the arc and 13m from the ball until it has been kicked:

  • Cancel kick-out
  • Throw-in the ball on defenders’ 20m line in front of the scoring space


The Standing Committee on Playing Rules (SCPR) is comprised of:

David Hassan (Chair), Tracy Bunyan (Sec), Pat Daly, Seamus Kenny, Brian Cuthbert, Michael Delaney, David Collins, Alex McQuillen, Frank Murphy.

You can read more about aims, rationale and data compiled related to the proposed new rules here.

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