Rule changes

There are five rule changes proposed. They are:

Proposal (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.

Proposal (2)

Sideline Kick

That the ball shall be played in a forward direction from the kick.


In the case of a side-line kick being taken by an attacking player on or inside the opponents’ 13m line, the ball may be kicked in any direction.

The GAA’S Standing Committee on the Playing Rules has propsed extendin the application of the Mark to the clean catching of the ball on or inside the 20m line from a kick delivered on or beyond the 45m line without it touching the ground.

The GAA’S Standing Committee on the Playing Rules has propsed extendin the application of the Mark to the clean catching of the ball on or inside the 20m line from a kick delivered on or beyond the 45m line without it touching the ground.

Proposal (3)

The Mark – To extend the application of the Mark to the clean catching of the ball on or inside the 20m line from a kick delivered on or beyond the 45m line without it touching the ground.

In the case of a Mark being awarded to an attacking player on or inside the 20m line, the free, if availed of, shall be taken from the point on the 20m line directly in line where the Mark is awarded.

In the case of a Mark being awarded to a defending player on or inside the 20m line, the free kick, if availed of, shall be taken from the point where the Mark is awarded.

The application of the Mark in the two areas of it arising (i.e. as in current Rule and in new Proposal) shall be standardised as follows:

  •   Up to  **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.
  •   A score may be made from a free awarded for a Mark.
  •   The normal Rules governing free-kicks shall apply (e.g. players being 13m from the ball before it is kicked).


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

If a player opts to ‘play on’ when awarded a Mark, he may be challenged i.e. provisions (b) (i) and (ii) of the current Mark Rule shall not apply during the experimentation.

Proposal (4)

Sin-Bin – The Penalty on the day for a Black Card Infraction or two Yellow Card Infractions - an ordering off for ten minutes in a Sin Bin.

A subsequent Black Card Infraction shall be penalised by the showing of a Black Card followed by a Red Card.

A subsequent Yellow Card Infraction shall be penalised by the showing of a Yellow Card followed by a Red Card.

In either 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 this Proposal.

The GAA’S Standing Committee on the Playing Rules has proposed a sin-bin penalty for black-card infractions.

The GAA’S Standing Committee on the Playing Rules has proposed a sin-bin penalty for black-card infractions.

Proposal (5)


For a kick-out, two players only from each team shall be positioned between the two 45m lines.

The goalkeeper and a maximum of six players from each team shall be behind the respective 45m lines, until the ball is kicked.

The ball from the kick-out shall travel beyond the 45m line before being played by a player of the defending team.

Other Rules relating to the kick-out to remain unchanged.


(1) For another player on the team taking a kick-out to play the ball before it has travelled outside the 45m line or has been played by an opposing player.


(i) Cancel kick-out

(ii) Throw in the ball on defenders’ 20m line in front of the scoring space.

(2) For a player to cross a 45m line before the ball is kicked for the kick-out.

(3) For a player(s) to, in the opinion of the referee, deliberately seek to delay the kick-out by not retreating behind the 45m lines in a timely manner.

Penalty for the above Fouls:

A 45m free off the ground and in front of the scoring space shall be awarded to the opposing team.

(4) For a player(s) of each team to simultaneously cross the 45m line(s) before the ball is kicked from the kick-out:


A throw-in ball shall be awarded on the centre of the 45m line involved or at the centre of the field (if infringements are made on both 45m lines).

The GAA’S Standing Committee on the Playing Rules has proposed that a goalkeeper's kick-out must pass beyond his team's 45-yard line before it can be touched by one of his teammates.

The GAA’S Standing Committee on the Playing Rules has proposed that a goalkeeper’s kick-out must pass beyond his team’s 45-yard line before it can be touched by one of his teammates.

The SCPR is chaired by David Hassan. He said: “In advance of this document there was extensive research carried out including detailed consideration of video footage, data provided on inter-county games from 2011 to the current season, and discussion on the part of the Committee’s members during the course of the year.

“Proposed changes are designed to enhance the core skills of Gaelic Football. The Committee will now embark on a period of consultation with all of the key stakeholders involved in the playing of our games. This feedback is important, and we also know that the ultimate test of any proposals is when we see them implemented on the field of play.”

Communication was also sought from all 32 GAA county boards as well as overseas units seeking feedback on the existing playing rules of Gaelic Football, as well as holding a meeting between the SCPR and the Chair of the Referees’ Development Committee.

It should be stressed that these proposals are on an experimental basis only and will be subject to a review.

During 2018 much of the Committee’s focus has been on Gaelic football. It has also reviewed the playing rules of Hurling as well as a number of other areas that span both codes and will consider these in much more detail during the second and third years of its three-year term.

Under GAA rule, changes to the playing rules of Gaelic Games are only possible in years divisible by 5, making 2020 a year that permits changes to the playing rules.

The Standing Committee on Playing Rules is comprised of:

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


Wow - some really radical stuff there. But they still won’t beat us.

Love to see the handpass restricted severely - that will fcuk up some amount of teams.


Having only two players from each team within the 2 45m lines at the time of a kickout will be very hard to enforce, in my opinion.
I would also think that not allowing a defender to be the first to touch a kickout until it has passed the 45m line is wrong. How will a 13 or 14 year old be expected to kick a ball over 30m into a strong wind? I’d imagine some Junior level goalkeepers/full-backs might struggle to achieve this, also.
Another problem I see is that if a team has a sideline kick about 30-35m from the opposition endline, almost all of the defending team’s players will retreat within their 45m line.
I am in favour of the sin-bin but I think two yellows should lead to a red card.
The handpass initiative is worth trialling.

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I think they will be forced to turn and kick it backwards. It’ll be frustrating watch a ball kicked back to midfield when one extra handpass would put a runner through on goal.

Not if they were through on Stepho … :wink:

Oh great, a return to hoofing the ball up to some big ape in the middle of the pitch or at full forward, we should all be made wear bell bottoms & crepe paper hats at games too if were going back to the 1970’s

They base the rule changes on video evidence from inter county games, but as usual the rule changes will apply to all, One lad refereeing a Junior Ball match in a local park will seriously struggle to enforce this nonsense,


The only game in the world were they keep changing rules every year just for the sake of it.

The 3 handpasses and keeping possession is a skill and not just at Inter county level, every team in the country practices keeping possession so we just force them to kick it after 3 passes. You’d be better off rewarding a team i.e a mark for a kick pass.


The forward sideline is just ridiculous and is by no means a major concern anyway.

The handpasses, as alluded to will just result in players kicking it back and reduce runners off the shoulder. Something does need to be done but not sure whether it is a rule change or a change in how teams are coached.

All these rule changes are actually doing more damage I think tbh

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Just like Aussie Rules.

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Will there be 9 refs each game to call all this?

These are ridiculous. Plenty of problems with the rules across the board. But ultimately the problem is that people are using rule changes to try and recapture a golden age that never existed. As many have said if you actually watch the games from the past rather than relying on rose tinted memory you will be quite disappointed with the standard of play and skills on display.

Some initial thoughts

So another thing for refs to hold in short term memory. Short-term Memory and attention are quite limited. Keeping constant count of steps taken, whether the player previously soloed or hopped, how many handpasses in a row and also paying attention to all other matters relating to the rules (eg foul play) is not humanly possible.

Sideline kick
Makes it easier to defend. Because the ball can’t be played backwards you can just drop extra defenders back to crowd out the space

Again more pressure on the refs. Having to decide where both the player who kicks the ball and the player who catches the ball are is going to lead to mistakes. It’s easy if both players are well beyond the lines, but if they are close calls mistakes will be made. This will especially be a problem at club level when refs don’t have any neutral officials with them.

Sin Bin
I like the overall thought of a sin bin rather than the current black card rules. But now it takes three yellows to get sent off?

Kick out
Sigh. There is a skill and technique to a good short kickout, as well as risk. It can also help speed up a game by getting the ball back into play. Yet too many people have no appreciation of these skills, they only care about fielding. The mark has already been introduced to reward long kicks and high fielding, it shouldn’t need more help. Also the rules requiring six defenders within your own 45 is either going to slow down play as defenders who get involved in attacks have to retreat to their own 45 before a kickout can occur or it will prevent defenders from getting involved in attacks in the first place because they will be afraid of conceding a 45 metre free if the ref decides they didn’t retreat fast enough. Personally I think the loss of attacking half backs will be a disaster to the game.


Sin bin for black card is only rule I’d like to see brought in.


The sideline seems an odd choice.
The one advantage of current unrestricted sideline is teams can restart game quickly. Now most of their quick restart options gone.
Also as it’s sideline, it’s first kick in the sequence of new play…the complaints have been about when you get to 10+ passes in the sequence.
Seems to me like it will only slow the Game down, you get a sideline on opponents 21m line, your 3 inside men are picked up and there is 4th defender in front of them. Options…keep looking and looking and then an aimless hoof. How does that improve the game?
Finally, the new forward only sideline penalizes the team with the kick (they could be team trying to play ball) and only benefits a team who play the blanket even more as if they slow down the taking of the kick, and get extra defender in place, offensive teams have few options. 2 knock on effects of this:

  • defending team will want to slow down taking of the kick so you’ll only get more of the Connolly in vs Carlow situations
  • will GAA need to ensure ball boys at regular intervals (like soccer) along the sideline e.g ball hoofed into stand, offensive team now don’t have option to kick back to free men backwards against team playing blanket so they get frustrated when ball takes an age to return to player due to kick sideline.

Seems an ill thought out unecesssry change that could just make game worse.

Valid point being made on twitter on new hand pass rule…
Best goal of the year would have been illegal. Corofin will 9 positive handpasses for goal against Nemo in club final.

Maybe try it that … a backwards hand pass is illegal in opponents half.

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And a forward coming around on a loop receiving a hand pass is an art and a great skill which again I wouldn’t punish.

Bernard Brogan is one of the best players at this.

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Apparently the changes are being made having studied data since 2011. What happened in 2011?


For the one brogan who maybe does something enlightening with a hand pass, there are another 20 who go back or sideways ad nauseum

The biggest issue in our game for last number of years is the blanket defense. None of these address that issue. The possession game has come about because it’s the only effective way to work around a blanket. If anything these changes would make it even more worthwhile to go with that putrid approach to the game.

If these were to approved it will turn the game into a complete farce.