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The water break, introduced to reduce bottle sharing during the Covid-19 pandemic, looks set to stay in 2021

The water break, introduced to reduce bottle sharing during the Covid-19 pandemic, looks set to stay in 2021

The water break, introduced to reduce bottle sharing during the Covid-19 pandemic, looks set to stay in 2021

The GAA are set to retain water breaks for the coming national league and championship seasons.

Game day regulations are to be finalised this week but it’s understood that water breaks, which were introduced last year as part of Covid-19 protocols, will be retained ahead of the new campaigns despite some high-profile opposition.

The water break rule allows for a pause in play of no more than a minute between the 15th and 20th minute of each half. The rationale behind the move was to discourage players from sharing water bottles in the midst of the pandemic.

Referees have also insisted that with less incursions on the pitch, it makes games easier to manage while Congress’ decision to remove the role of maor foirne means only medical personnel will be allowed on the field along with players and officials.

However, the likes of Mayo football manager James Horan, Waterford hurling manager Liam Cahill and recently appointed Kerry football captain Paul Murphy have all come out against the regulation since it was introduced.

“Water breaks are definitely having an impact on games,” Murphy said. “It’s killing momentum for teams and it’s allowing teams to settle down.

“I don’t think the GAA at the top level are hugely fond of the runners with the water bottles, which might lead to the water breaks becoming permanent long-term.”

Kevin McStay also pointed out that, depending on when the whistle is blown, it can hand an advantage to one team. In last year’s All-Ireland final, McStay pointed out that both water breaks were called after Dublin wides, thus offering Dublin the opportunity to organise their press on the Mayo kickout.

Similar moves were considered in other sports but some, like the League of Ireland, opted against introducing the stoppage. However, the GAA look set to persist with the new rule for this campaign.

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