Free-taking motion to be submitted again

15 September 2013

Cork's goalkeeper Anthony Nash celebrates scoring his sides second goal. INPHO
The Wexford man behind a motion which failed to make it to Congress earlier this year intends resubmitting it in light of the controversy over Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash's style of free-taking.

As was evidenced in last Sunday's drawn All-Ireland hurling final, Nash can gain several metres before he strikes a free. When he takes a 20-metre free, for example, he is closer to the 13-metre line when he strikes and Thomas Ryan from the St. Anne's club in Wexford thinks this is wrong.

When Ryan - whose son Darragh was the Wexford full back during the 2000s - submitted his motion to last December's Wexford convention, he didn't have Nash in mind, but believes the motion will gain greater support this year.

The St. Anne's motion read: "In hurling, any free being taken, penalty or otherwise, no ball can be struck inside the 20-metre line. The penalty for breach of this is a free out. Linesmen and referees to police this issue."

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Ryan - who reckons the motion received about 40 per cent support - said: "I felt very strongly about it and wanted a simple rule to cut out the messing. The referee would stand in line with the free and if someone crossed the line a free out would be the result. They can hit it behind the line if they want to.

"I think what will happen is you will maybe have a young chap in goal and a big fella will hit a ball some day and drive the wire through the helmet and the GAA won't have a leg to stand on. Counsel will say it was a 21-yard free and he struck it from 14. Somebody can be killed from a ball struck from that distance.

"It (the motion) got a good oul' hearing but it was something they did not go with at convention. Maybe if it went again we might get it carried. People will be more aware of it. I think it is an injustice really as it stands."

While clarifying that the referee for the replay will not be under instruction to pay close attention to any Nash penalties or 20-metre frees should they arise, the GAA's national match officials coordinator Patrick Doherty insists that the Cork goalkeeper's technique isn't any different from many other free-takers.

"What Nash is doing is he is throwing the ball forward which is no different than what free-takers have been doing for the last X number of years; perhaps he is throwing it a metre, or metres, more than most. What Nash is doing is not unique; maybe the ability to throw it further makes him unique," the Westmeath man is quoted in the same newspaper.