National GAA referees head Willie Barrett is hopeful that proposals to counter cynical play in football and hurling will get a positive airing at this month's annual congress.
The motion looking for a penalty to be awarded when a clear goalscoring opportunity has been denied went back to the GAA’s Standing Committee on the Playing Rules (SCPR) last week for further clarification before being approved by GAA Management.
It’s understood the motion was re-worded to specify exactly what constituted "clear goalscoring opportunities".
A new arc inside the 20-metre line and the semi-circle, has helped better define an area for referees in which to make that judgement.
Up to last week doubts had been expressed over whether the motion could get a platform at this month’s virtual Congress. The prospect of the proposal being pushed back to Special Congress remained a live one over fears that debate over the complex proposed rule change might not be suitable for the virtual gathering.
But counties were informed over the weekend that the motion will be heard imminently. Referees’ boss, Barrett, says the re-wording and further definition are positives.
"With the challenges of Covid 19 preventing a rigorous debate only a very limited number of motions are going through to annual congress at the end of this month, we believe," said Barrett. "Many motions have been put back to the Special Congress later in the year.
"But we were very hopeful that the motion on cynical play would go ahead this time. Counties were anxious to get this sorted and Management agreed to let it on the clár."
The new definition of the proposal will provide further clarity for both congress delegates and referees, Barrett suggests.
"We feel that the clearer definition will only help referees," Barrett says.
It would only come in for a one-year trial initially, but the feeling is that cynicism is in the game of hurling
"There is urgency on this rule and there is a good support team around the referee nowadays to help enforce it.
"It would only come in for a one-year trial initially, but the feeling is that cynicism is in the game of hurling, there are plenty of examples from the 2020 leagues and championship – and especially the latter part of the season to call upon as evidence.
"But I think it has a good chance of being passed," Barrett added.
The motion’s success is not expected to be a straightforward process, however, as goalscoring opportunities, for example, don’t always necessarily lie with the player in possession.
But a number of high-profile figures had come out publicly in recent weeks and months to urge the GAA to draft the new ruling.
And Barrett feels that a consensus is forming.
"Now is the time it needs to be dealt with," he says, "or the cynicism in the game will only get worse.
It will be a big call for a referee, but we do believe the rule will work
"By introducing the 20-metre line and arc that will limit variables greatly and possibly make it easier for everyone.
"It will be a big call for a referee, but we do believe the rule will work.
"If it does get over the line, we may have some issues but as part of the trial there will be an early opportunity to see how it's working.
"Any rule that has come in over the last five years, we have always got a chance to assess it. That’s so important."