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Important information on playing regulations and refereeing

GAA Handball would like to draw the attention of our wider membership to a number of changes which have recently been passed by Ard Comhairle in relation to playing rules/regulations and refereeing in general.

The points to note in relation to the playing rules/regulations are as follows:

  • Two screens is NOT a fault in Irish Rules (It is in International Rules).
  • Two consecutive hinders in doubles is NOT a fault in Irish Rules (It is in International Rules).
  • Three avoidables in one game results in a technical.
  • A player who is more than 30 minutes late for a match start time/calculated start time will have a point deducted from them for every minute they are late after the 30 minutes have elapses and after the second 30 minutes, the match will be forfeited.
  • In Irish tournaments, every loser over the age of 17 MUST referee the next match on same court.
  • Appeals will be for short balls ONLY.
  • A player will have two appeals in each game to 21 points or 15 points and one appeal in each game to 11 points. A successful appeal means the player automatically keeps that appeal.
  • Players cannot catch the ball under any circumstances, even if it's not making the front wall.
  • Cramp IS classed as an injury and injury time out can be taking.
  • When the court is being cleaned, players must not leave court unless a player is actually doing the cleaning.
  • In softball, a ball that rebounds off the front wall and directly over the backwall will be a play over, as is the case in 4-wall.
  • In softball, a player chasing the ball can strike the ball off the backwall and on to front wall again, as is the case in 4-wall.
  • In doubles, the team who wins toss has choice to either serve or receive.
  • All players agree to the GAA code of conduct while playing handball.

Pre match on-court ref-player talk

Referees are advised to address the following areas when addressing players before a match starts:

  • Point out any possible court hinders.
  • Avoidables: no warnings will be given, they will be called, and they can happen accidentally or purposely.
  • Foot faults will be called, on both front and back lines.
  • You will let match flow. (If a player takes a shot when there is a potential replay, they won’t get a replay).
  • Skid balls will be called only if seen by the referee.
  • Remind players of the 10-second rule; once the referee has called the score, failure to adhere to the time can result in a point penalty.
  • Players are always to stay within earshot of the referee.
  • Point out line judges (who and where), and state that only short balls can be appealed. Reiterate that players have two appeals in a game to 21 or 15 and one in a game to 11 and if they are successful in appeal, they retain their appeal.
  • Emphasise the need for total respect for ref and players (zero inappropriate dialogue with referee or unsporting behaviour tolerated).
  • Finally, ask the players if they have any questions.


4 Wall, Softball, & Hardball Rules

GAA Code of Conduct 

Guide for Handball Referees

Regulations Passed by AC 4-2-24

Championship Scorecards