Mark introduced at Congress 2016
The GAA's Annual Congress concluded in Carlow on Saturday afternoon, with the biggest news being the introduction of the mark to Gaelic football.
Winning 68 per cent of the vote, narrowly gaining the necessary two thirds majority, Motion 41, brought to Congress by the Standing Committee on Playing Rules, will see the following rule introduced:
“When a player catches the ball cleanly from a Kick-Out without it touching the ground, on or past the 45m line nearest the KickOut point, he shall be awarded ‘a Mark’ by the Referee. The player awarded a ‘Mark’ shall have the options of (a) Taking a free kick or (b Playing on immediately."
Of the motions brought by Central Council (Motions 4-11) aimed at dealing with issues of player burn-out and fixture planning, all that were voted upon on Saturday, bar motion 6, were rejected.
Motions 4 and 5 were approved on Friday night. Motion 4 means the age limit for inter-county minor football and hurling will be reduced from U18 to U17. It proposes that all minor players at inter-county level be aged between 15 and 17 and at club level, between 14 and 18. It will become effective from January 1, 2018. Minor will remain U18 at club level.
Motion 5 means the following: the U21 grade at inter-county football level will be replaced with an U20 grade, with players eligible to be aged between 18 and 20. It proposes no such change to the U21 grade for hurling, or at club level, in either code.
However, the mood for change, noticeably present on Friday, had clearly dampened by Saturday morning.
Although motions 7-11 all received a simple majority in favour from the delegates, none received the required two thirds and therefore were all rejected.
Motion 7 proposed that All-Ireland football finals be played on the first Sunday in September, with the hurling final to be played two weeks prior. The motion received 60.8 per cent in favour, but not enough to pass. The rejection of that motion was a major torpedo to the plans for a restructured fixtures calendar, which would aim to make more space for club games and have the All-Ireland Club Championships completed in a calendar year.
Motion 8 sought to make extra-time obligatory for practically all games, with a handful of exceptions, namely All-Ireland finals and provincial finals. However, the 57.5 per cent vote in its favour was not enough to carry it, meaning that replays will remain a central part of the GAA summer.
Motion 9 proposed the abolition of the All-Ireland Intermediate Hurling Championship (inter-county only), and despite receiving over 65 per cent of the votes in favour of it, it fell short of the 66.66 per cent required to carry it.
Motions 10 and 11 sought a restructuring of the All-Ireland Junior Football Championship, but they too failed to carry the day, with the status quo remaining in place.
Also rejected on Saturday was Motion 43, which proposed that all televised inter-county championship games be available on free to air TV. There was strong opposition and the motion received just 15 per cent in favour.
The vast majority of motions put forward by the counties were rejected, but a handful were approved. Click here for a comprehensive run down of how all the motions performed at Congress on Saturday,