Hurling Review Committee

The Hurling 2020 Committee launched its report in Croke Park on 6 January, 2015, but what will it mean for the future of the game and what changes can we expect to see arising from it?

For starters, it is worth remembering that the 15 proposals included in the report are just that - proposals.

Eleven of the proposals will be put before the GAA’s Central Council, whose next meeting is the weekend after next but who may take more time to discuss the various issues raised in the extensive report, and will be discussed there before any decisions are made on their implementation or otherwise.

The four proposed rule changes have to go before Congress in Cavan in February, where delegates will discuss their merits and a vote will take place to see if they are adopted for the 2015 Championship.

When will we see practical changes arising from the report?
One of the most significant of the 15 proposals will be coming to a hurling field near you as early as next weekend. The one-on-one penalty (the penalty taker facing one defender on the line and striking from no closer than 20 metres) will be trialed in pre-season competitions such as the Walsh Cup and the Waterford Crystal Cup.

The new rule will then be voted on at Congress and, if adopted, will come into effect in all competitions for five years until the next Congress where rule changes are heard in 2020.

The proposal to set up a hurling referees’ sub-committee at national level, if approved by Central Council, is envisaged to coincide with the term of Uachtarán Tofa Aoghán Ó Fearghail, who is due to take over the office of Uachtarán from Liam Ó Néill at Congress at the end of February.

The appointment of a full-time director of hurling is one of the most significant proposals in the report and committee chairman Liam Sheedy envisages a speedy appointment, as long as the new role gets the approval of Central Council.

What are the main issues that didn’t make it?
A number of issues were considered by the Hurling 2020 Committee, but for various reasons didn’t make it into the 15 proposals, which form the core of the report launched in Croke Park today.

Among the issues discussed by the committee that were deemed not to merit change include;

  • Two points for a sideline cut
  • Four points for a goal
  • Two referees in hurling

What are the most radical proposals?
Inevitably, the proposal to introduce a new system that will allow a player shown two yellow cards and is excluded from the game to be replaced by a substitute will cause a stir. Under the proposed new system, a referee will point the player shown a second yellow card to the line rather than another colour card being produced. The report suggests that there is no appetite for the introduction of another colour card, such as the black card in football.

“The one that came under the most scrutiny in our interactions was the two yellows,” says Committee chairman Liam Sheedy. “If you asked me to pick one that may not whet the appetite it’s that one. But it’s not about being right all the time. There’s data to back up where we are coming from in each of these and if they fail to make it then majority rules - that’s the organisation we operate in.”

The proposed introduction of squad numbers in the championship is another radical departure from the traditional 1-15 we have become used to. The Committee’s proposal would see each player allocated a number at the start of the campaign and then keep that number for the remainder of the championship. If implemented, the proposal could spell the end of the ‘dummy’ team and should also help promote the game and raise players’ profiles.