Gaelic football rules trial set to begin:

By John Harrington

The GAA’s Standing Committee on Playing Rules (SCPR) will next week commence trialling two alternative playing rules in the Higher Education Freshers 1 Gaelic Football League.

One of the trial rules relates to the kick-out and will require it to travel beyond the near 45 metre line before a team-mate of the goalkeeper who kicked it can play the ball. This trial rule is illustrated in graphic at the top of this article.

The second trial rule relates to free-kicks, sideline kicks, and free kicks awarded for a mark and will prohibit players from kicking the ball backwards between the two 20 metre lines. This trial rule is illustrated in the below graphic.

The two trial rules are designed to increase contests for possession which have been in marked decline in Gaelic football for many years as the sport has become a more possession-based, risk averse sport.

A recently published statistical analsyis by the GAA showed there were on average just 29 turnovers per game in the 2023 Championship compared to 59 per game in the 2011 championship.

That same study found that 64% of all kick-outs were uncontested in 2023 and that 59% of them went past the ’45, compared with 86 per cent going past the ’45 in 2011.

Almost half (46%) of foot-passes from sideline balls were played backwards in 2023.

Educational resources including video and graphics of the trial playing rules have been sent to all competing third level teams, and the SCPR also hosted a webinar with those stakeholders last Tuesday.

The SCPR has also circulated a pre-competition survey to third level coaches, development officers, and referees which enabled them to submit any questions they might have bout the trialled playing rules before the competition starts.

Once the competition commences, a Post-Game survey will allow those same stake-holders to submit their feedback, comments, and suggestions about the implementation of the rules and any additional considerations about the rules the SCPR might want to take into account.

Gaelic Stats will undertake a comprehensive analysis of the trialled rules, and a report will then be produced in December for presentation to Central Council in January 2024.

The two trial playing rules for Gaelic football can be read in full below.

Proposed Playing Rules for Trialling in H.E. Freshers 1 Football and Hurling Competitions 2023

Gaelic Football Playing Rules:

1. Kick-Out in Football to Travel Outside the near 45m. Line.

(i) Amend Rule 2.7 (a), Set Play (Football) to read:

“The ball shall travel outside the near 45m. line before being played by another player of the defending team”.

(ii) Amend Rule 4.29 -Technical Fouls (Football) to read:

“For another player on the team taking a kick-out to play the ball before it has travelled outside the near 45m line”.


(i) Cancel kick-out

(ii) Throw-in the ball on defenders’ 20m line in front of the scoring space.

2. Prohibition on Playing a Free Kick, Side-line Kick or Free Kick awarded for a Mark backwards between the two 20m.lines.

(i) Amend Rule 2.5 Set Play (Football) by adding:

“A free kick shall not be played backwards between the two 20m lines”.

(ii) Amend Rule 2.9 Set Play (Football) by adding after the first sentence:

“The side-line kick shall not be played backwards between the two 20m. lines”.

(iii) Amend Rule 2.12 (a) Set Play (Football) by adding after the first sentence:

“A free-kick taken for award of a Mark shall not be played backwards between the two 20m. lines”.

(iv) Amend Rule 4.25 -Technical Fouls (Football) by adding:

(c) To play the ball backwards from a free-kick, side-line kick or free-kick awarded for a Mark between the two

20m. lines”.


(i) Cancel the free Kick, side-line kick or a free kick awarded for a Mark.

(ii) Throw-In the ball where the foul occurred.