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New GAA rules could see big scores racked up

By John Campbell

When Cavan and Donegal meet in the opening match of the Ulster championship at Kingspan Breffni Park on May 20, they will become the first sides from the province to play under new rules which were approved at Congress last month.

The amended ‘square ball’ rule as well as other rule changes including referees being allowed more widespread consultation with their umpires and linesmen when there is a doubt over decisions will formally take effect from May 14.

The new ‘square ball’ rule allows an attacking player to enter the small rectangle in open play before the ball is delivered thus leading to the possibility of an increase in the number of goals that might ensue in the championship.

However, in relation to set play — that is, from frees, sideline kicks and '45s — the old square ball rule which forbids a player to enter the rectangle before the ball arrives till applies.

Cavan captain Padraig Reilly believes that the new rules will benefit the game.

“We will have to be aware of the changes but I think that they will help the standard of play overall,” says Reilly.

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness has already warned his players to take stock of the new rules and suggests that they will give forwards greater scope to land scores. Ulster president Aoghan Farrell said: “No matter what sport it is whether it be rugby, soccer, ice-hockey or whatever, those present at games want to see scores. There is no substitute for being at a match and the reaction which scores engender is part of the real fabric of our games.”

GAA President Liam O’Neill has confirmed that Hawk-Eye technology will be in use at Croke Park for the start of the championship after it was trialled during the Allianz League.

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