It would seem that my information above was slightly incorrect. [SIZE=3]Apparently the game stops dead on the hooter [/SIZE] and the hooter doesn’t stop for fouls thus encouraging cynical fouling at the end. You can imagine the carnage in a close match.
Interestingly it isn’t mentioned as an issue below.
Central Council, at its meeting on Saturday, decided to defer the implementation of the clock/hooter until the 2015 Hurling and Football championships based on the content of the report below.
The report provided an assessment of the use of the clock and hooter system at the recent Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup and Fitzgibbon Cup semi-finals and finals.
Further piloting of the proposed system will take place during the Higher Educations Leagues later this year before the necessary motions to achieve satisfactory implementation are prepared for Congress.
Report on Clock/Hooter Trial, IDM Sigerson & Fitzgibbon Cup Finals
At the November 2013 meeting of Ard Chomhairle, it was agreed that the new Clock/Hooter system should be trialled at the Irish Daily Mail Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup Finals in 2014 “after which Ard Chomhairle will finalise its views on its implementation”.
The Clock/Hooter was subsequently trialled at the following games:
Sigerson Cup: February 21 U.C.C v NUI Maynooth (Ref: Barry Cassidy)
U.U.J v U.C.D (Ref: Martin Higgins)
February 22 U.C.C v U.U.J (Ref: Joe Mc Quillan)
Fitzgibbon Cup February 28 W.I.T v L.I.T (Ref: Brian Gavin)
Cork I.T v U.C.C (Ref: Alan Kelly)
March 1 W.I.T v Cork I.T (Ref: James Mc Grath)
The 5th official role was performed variously by Bernard Smith and Feargal Mc Gill. The issues raised and recommendations made in this report are on the basis of considerable consultation with a wide variety of stakeholders involved over the course of the two weekends, including Match Officials, Mentors, Players, Supporters and event organisers.
The Protocol adopted for the Trials was that approved by Coiste Bainistí at their meeting on December 13th 2013. The clock counted up from 0.00 and a separate Timekeeper on the sideline (5th Official) controlled the clock and hooter.
In accordance with Rule the clock was only to be stopped on the instruction of the referee for injuries and for deliberate or for “other incidental delays not otherwise provided for in the playing rules.”* Referees were therefore instructed not to stop the clock for substitutions. In terms of the issuing of Yellow/Black/Red Cards or consultation between match officials, officials were instructed not to stop the clock unless the delays involved were considered by them to be exceptional.
There were only three stoppages over the course of the six games that were not for injuries. In the first of these, the clock was (correctly in our opinion) stopped where a Referee ran to the other end of the field to consult his umpires on a disciplinary issue before sanctioning players; the second was where a melee ensued and the Referee stopped the clock to identify and sanction the players involved; the third involved the Referee stopping the clock to warn the respective backroom teams about their behaviour.
All of the other instances in which the clock was stopped during the trials related to injuries.
*Our playing rules provide for time wasting over frees or kick/puck outs to be dealt with by awarding a hop or throw ball; delaying an opponent taking a free kick/puck or sideline by hitting or kicking the ball away or not releasing the ball etc is punished by moving the ball to a position 13m more advantageous.
[B]3. Overall Evaluation
The experiment worked reasonably well. The novelty factor obviously had a bearing, but overall players and spectators in particular seemed to appreciate the benefits of knowing exactly how much time was remaining.
The clock was stopped approximately twice per game (in one game, it was not stopped at all). The longest half played took 32 mins 20 seconds to complete (games in Sigerson and Fitzgibbon being 30 minutes per half). Therefore a fear expressed that the introduction of the clock would lead to significantly elongated completion time for each half was not borne out in the trials.
There was definite confusion – particularly among spectators, but also backroom teams – as to what the clock should be stopped for. While this was understandable in terms of spectators, an explanation of the system had been sent to all the participating teams but some clearly had not digested the message. Calling for the clock to be stopped, and putting pressure on the Referee to do so at times when it would have been wrong to do so, was not helpful.
It was clear therefore that there will require to be a considerable education programme rolled out in this context ahead of the Clock/Hooter introduction if Media, Supporters, Players, Managers, Commentators and Pundits are to understand the Referee’s role and what the clock can and cannot be stopped for.
The Match Officials were by and large indifferent to the clock. They did not feel it made their job any easier – if anything they felt the necessity to signal to the line when a stoppage was required was an additional burden! However, it has to be borne in mind that for all of the Referees this was their first time using such a system and it is possible that in time, the clock could be seen as contributing to making the Referee’s job easier.
4. Issues identified
A number of issues were identified – some of which can be rectified without recourse to Rule changes, some of which cannot.
[B][B][B]In order for the clock/hooter system to operate effectively, Radio Communication between the Referee and the 5th Official will be vital. If the 5th official is to operate in the Sideline area (and we recommend that he does along with the 4th official) he may not always be in a position to see immediately if the referee has called for the clock to be stopped – this can be due to player’s or the sideline official or a Maor Fóirne etc being in his line of sight. Therefore 2 or 3 seconds could potentially be lost, or indeed he may not stop the clock at all.
In addition, there will be occasions when the Referee may not decide to stop the clock immediately – i.e. he may not realise how serious an injury is in the first few seconds or may be caught up in trying to sort out a discipline issue and may simply “forget” to stop the clock. The Referee’s involved in the trial felt having the 5th Official ask them “Do you want me to Stop the Clock?” at such moments helped enormously in taking pressure off them in terms of worrying about the Clock as well as trying to Referee the game. The Rental costs involved in sourcing sufficient Radio systems to cover all championship games will be c. €5000 per annum; however we feel it is insignificant compared to the potential reputational risk to the Association if such a step is not taken and a major mistake is made in a championship game because of it.
Our recommendation is that for every championship game a radio system should be in place that allows the 5th official to hear the Referee and vice versa.
[B][B][B]In our original protocol it had been recommended that the Clock should re-start with a signal from the Referee to the 5th Official. It is our opinion that while such a signal should definitely remain in place for when the clock is being stopped (so that spectators, players, backroom teams etc. know that the clock is being stopped), there is no need for such a signal when the Clock is being restarted.
Our recommendation is that the protocol originally approved should be altered to state that the 5th official should restart the clock on the Referee’s whistle.
[B][B][B]As mentioned previously, the Playing Rules of Hurling and Football do not allow for the Clock to be stopped for the making of substitutions. It quickly became clear in the course of the trial that this opened the Clock/Hooter system up to tactical exploitation by teams if so desired (although it should be pointed out that no team overtly attempted to do this in any of the games).
There is however a real fear that the tactical use of substitutes could be used to count down the Clock in the closing stages of a very close game. It would not take any great leap of the imagination to envisage a situation where a team that are a point up with 90 seconds remaining, use substitutions in a tactical manner to ensure play does not restart at all before the sounding of the hooter! As a measure that was brought in as part of a Report that had as one of its main desires, the elimination of cynicism in Gaelic Football, we feel this would be anomalous to say the least.
It is our view that the issues of substitutions requires to be dealt with properly before proceeding to implement the new system. One view is that the Clock should be stopped for all substitutions; there is a fear however that this could lead to the elongation of playing halves to an unnecessary degree; an alternative view is to allow for Clock stoppages for Substitutions in the last 5 minutes of games only (i.e. between 65.00 and 70.00). The practical implementation of either change would be quite straight forward as long as the Referee is wired to the 5th and 4th Officials.
Our recommendation is that the Playing Rules should be changed to ensure the Clock is stopped either for all substitutions made or for any substitutions being made in the last five minutes of a game.
[*]End of game
[B][B][B]The most serious matter we wish to bring to Ard Chomhairle’s attention is the potential – as our current rules are written – for confusion and controversy around when a game (or indeed a half) formally ends. Our Playing Rules says it does so on the sounding of the Hooter (“The end of the game shall be signalled by the sounding of a Hooter)
An issue arose in one of our games where a player struck a ball in or around the time the hooter sounded. Fortunately the ball went wide but had it gone over the bar, it would certainly have been a source of controversy as to whether the score should have stood or not. Had the player struck the ball before the hooter, the score would have stood; if his strike was after it, it would not. There was enormous disagreement on all sides as to whether this particular shot had been struck pre or post hooter! There was absolutely no consensus on what the correct call was – one section of management, players and spectators I spoke to were adamant the ball had been struck before the hooter, another element of same were adamant it had not been struck until after the hooter! Even the Match Officials were in disagreement.
Had such an incident occurred in a Senior Football or Hurling Championship game and led to a team losing a game in such circumstance, the reputational damage to the Association – not to mention possible legal challenges within or without our own Rulebook – would be enormous.
There are also issues over when the Hooter should sound. For example if a player is standing over a free, should the Hooter sound regardless of whether he is in the process of taking it or not? Might the hooter potentially be blamed for a player missing an All-Ireland winning free?
Should the 5th Official sound the hooter when the clock reaches 70.00 regardless of what is happening on the field of play (e.g if a free or penalty is waiting to be taken). The hooter signifies “the end of the game” according to Rule; yet elsewhere in Rule it is clear that a free awarded before the end of the game is permitted to be taken. Frees for further fouls by the team without possession – after the playing time has elapsed – can also be awarded. In our view there is potentially an anomaly there which could be open to exploitation in terms of challenging the result of a game further down the line.
We strongly believe that in any games where the Clock/Hooter system is being used, the end of the game should occur, not when the clock reaches 70.00 (or 35.00 for half time) but at the point after this when the ball next goes out of play, i.e. wide or over the sideline (an exception to this should be when a ball goes out for a 45 or 65 – there should be time allowed for this to be taken but any score from it would require to be direct). Once this occurs, the Hooter would then sound.
Our recommendation is that the Playing Rules should be changed to allow the end of any game where the Clock/Hooter is being used to be the point at which the ball next goes out of play after the clock has reached the end of playing time.
5. Summary of Recommendations
In the first instance, we wish to put on record our thanks to Comhairle Ardoideachais and the teams involved in agreeing to the IDM Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Finals weekends being used as a trial for the Clock/Hooter system. We feel it was a hugely important trial and the information gathered should be most useful to the Association.
In an overall context, we believe that the Clock/Hooter system will be an addition to the presentation of our inter county championship games. However we also believe, that our playing rules at present do not necessarily provide for what it was hoped the Clock/Hooter system would achieve. It is our view that if the system is implemented without changes to the existing playing rules, it creates considerable risk for the Association.
A summary of the issues that require to be addressed is as follows:
A radio system should be in place that allows the 5th official to hear the Referee and vice versa.
The protocol originally approved should be altered to state that the 5th official should restart the clock on the Referee’s whistle.
Playing Rules should be changed to ensure the Clock is stopped either for all substitutions made or for any substitutions being made in the last five minutes of a game.
Our Playing Rules should be changed to allow the end of any game where the Clock/Hooter is being used to be the point at which the ball next goes out of play after the clock has reached the end of playing time.
[*]We therefore suggest that Central Council give serious consideration to postponing the introduction of the Clock/Hooter system until the 2015 Championship to allow for the Rules changes identified to be made and to ensure there are no unnecessary controversies or perceived injustices in the 2014 Championships due to the introduction of the clock.
[B][B][B]In the interim, and regardless of whether Ard Chomhairle decide to postpone the introduction of the Clock/Hooter or not, we will be proceeding with FSL to equip all grounds that will be used for Senior inter county championship games in 2014 with the hardware necessary to deliver on the provisions of the Clock/Hooter motion.
A revised Protocol for use of the Clock/Hooter system will be submitted to Ard Chomhairle for approval once decisions on the Recommendations of this Report have been made.[/B][/B][/B]