Has the new square ball rule potential to cause major confusion?

AND so another championship summer of football and hurling is about to unfold. One hopefully that will be memorable, enjoyable and fulfilling.

AND so another championship summer of football and hurling is about to unfold. One hopefully that will be memorable, enjoyable and fulfilling.

On the local scene the opening round of the senior, intermediate and junior football championships are down for decision this coming weekend, a total of 21 games in full, so lots to look forward to.

The problem that Round 2 of the championships may not be played until God knows when we will leave aside for the minute as that particular annual chestnut is commented upon elsewhere in this edition.

But with the onset of the local championship comes the onset of a new format. A format (also commented on elsewhere) but one that certainly deserves to be given a fair crack of the whip and one, on paper at least, that seems very fair and equitable.

However, there is another change that is about to come into vogue that possibly not everyone out there realises. And that is the new ‘square ball’ rule that was passed at the recent Congress held in Killenard, Co. Laois on 14 April and comes into commission one month from the holding of that annual gathering, so from yesterday (Monday 14 April) the new rule is now part and parcel of the GAA Rule Book.

Incidentally Laois native Liam O’Neill took up office as the new President of the Association at that Congress and we take this opportunity to wish him well during his term.

Hopefully Mr. O’Neill will prove to be a good leader for the GAA as a whole and a good friend to Kildare in particular. Unlike his ...

No don’t go down that road.

But to get back to the ‘square ball’ and what this new ruling entails.

Now one would have thought that the changing of a rule such as the square ball would be simple and straight forward. After all that was why the rule change was made in the first place.

But the GAA do nothing simple.

And less straight forward.

So what does the new rule allow?

Or more to the point what does it not allow?

Up to know a player could not be in the small square (or rectangle) before the ball but that has now changed and a player can now enter that area once the the final deliberate play of the ball has been made whether it be by kicking, hand passing, fist passing or deliberately flicking the ball into the small rectangle.

Which seems all straight forward and simple.

The rule regarding ‘set play’ remains unchanged, i.e. if the ball is delivered through a free kick, line ball or a 45, then the player cannot enter the ‘area’ before the ball.

Again simple and reasonably straight forward.

Until that is one reads the ‘exceptions’ to the rule, and there are two.

(i) If an attacking player legally enters the small rectangle, and the ball is played from that area but is returned before the attacking player has time to leave the area, provided he does not play the ball or interfere with the defence, a foul is not committed.

(ii) When a point is scored from outside the small rectangle and the ball is sufficiently high to be out of reach of all players, the score shall be allowed even though an attacking player may have been, otherwise illegally, within the small rectangle before the ball – provided that the player in question does not interfere with the defence.”

So a player can be illegally in the small square and providing he does not interfere with play and no one can reach the ball due to its height, a score can be allowed? Yes? No?

Me thinks the GAA may have made a bit of a liathróidí of the square ball rule!

We’ll soon be finding out.

Bring on the summer and all its controversies!