The 2021 GAA Congress has made a number of significant decisions for Gaelic games, including the introduction of a black card and penalty for cynical play, and a split season that moves All-Ireland finals to July
The GAA Congress has voted in favour of introducing stricter sanctions for cynical fouls in hurling and Gaelic football.
In the big ball, 10-minute sin-bins are already in situ, with a black card being shown to highlight the punishment. Now, in the event of a cynical foul inside the 21-yard line or the ‘D’ which is judged to prevent a goal-scoring opportunity, a penalty will also be awarded to the attacking team.
The rule will also be introduced in hurling, along with 10-minute sin-bins for the offending players.
Despite protests from several delegates including the GPA arguing that the motion should be deferred until the ‘Special Congress’ later this year to allow for an in-person debate, the poll was held. A majority of 61% voted in favour.
The new rules will be in place for the National Leagues and All-Ireland Championships in 2021 on a trial basis.
All-Ireland finals brought forward
Meanwhile, the ‘split season’ has been officially enshrined into the GAA’s calendar, with All-Ireland Championship finals to take place by the 29th Sunday of the year; essentially mid-to-late July.
This will come into effect from 2022, with the club season taking up the second half of the year.
16-team cap in senior championships
Following a lengthy, drawn-out process, a majority voted to cap county senior club championships at a maximum of 16 teams. 66% voted in its favour, with 34% opposing.
Galway and Tyrone county representatives spoke against its introduction.
Counties must adapt their competitions for 2023 onwards.
All change in U20 hurling
Meanwhile, the U20 Hurling Championship is set for a change. There will be no All-Ireland semi-finals, with the Munster and Leinster winners progressing straight to the All-Ireland decider. The competition will now move in line with its Gaelic football counterpart, where players who line out at senior intercounty level are unable to simultaneously represent the county’s U20 team.
Earlier in the day, it was pre-determined that joint-captains could no longer hoist silverware. Despite some delegates voicing their opposition, there was no vote held and the Central Council decision stood. This means that only one nominated player can accept a trophy on behalf of a team.
Elsewhere, there were a number of other motions passed, including the decision to ban selectors, or maor foirne, from entering the field of play.