GAA Safeguarding and Transfer Rules Summary 2023


Safeguarding of Children / Young People Under 18 Years of Age.

(Derived from CH. 1 – (Rule 1.13) of the GAA Official Guide 2023)

-The Association shall safeguard and encourage the interests and wellbeing of everyone under 18 years of age playing GAA. They will take all steps to protect under 18’s from forms of abuse, harm, discrimination and degrading treatment, while respecting all under 18’s rights, feelings and wishes.

-The Central Council shall have a Code of Behaviour for under 18’s players, to protect and safeguard them, even where the code is breached, followed by disciplinary procedures, and be able to amend or cancel any provision of the Code over time.

-The Code shall provide for the manner determining whether the procedures under the Code or provisions of rule 7 (disciplinary rules and actions) shall be invoked in any case.

-The Code will outline the disciplinary procedures applied when the Code is breached. This rule gives authority to carry out all functions and actions according to the Code and to the Guidelines.

-The Central Council should have a GAA Guidance for dealing with and reporting allegations or concerns of abuse in place, and any allegations and concerns of any abuse should be dealt with privately and in accordance with provisions of these Guidelines. They must not be dealt with under any other provision or under club constitution and rules.


(Derived from CH. 6 (Rules 6.1-6.11) of the GAA Official Guide 2023)

Association Ethos: As a community centred sport, based on allegiance to members of local clubs and counties, Transfer Rules and County Bye-Laws reflect this ethos.


-A player first becomes a member of an Association as either a youth (under18’s) member or a full member, within the county of their permanent residence. Counties prescribe the extent to which a person becomes a member of an Association, by means of Bye-laws, and the member may have choice to which club they would like to join in the county.

-Bye-laws can allow the person who is seeking to become a member of an Association a choice of club. This choice may be limited by permanent residence in or connection to a catchment area (determined by the County Committee), where there are multiple clubs, or no choice at all, where there is only one club in such catchment area.

-When a club or all clubs that an intending member is entitled to join refuse his application to such club, the County Committee can authorise the intending member to apply for membership in another club deemed appropriate subject to the Byelaws that apply.


-A player who wishes to leave one club to join another in the same county must apply to the County Committee for a transfer.

-The County Committee will delegate the consideration for the application to the Competition Control Committee. A hearing may take place to outline the position of the application.

-When a transfer case arises regarding becoming a member of a club thereafter their first club, the County Committee are responsible for delegating the consideration of the case to the Competitions Control Committee for resolution.

-Observations for consideration shall be made in a specified time frame and/or of attending a hearing to outline the positions on the case.

-Decisions made by the Competitions Control Committee will be in accordance with the Bye-laws of the county.

-Appeals against hearing decisions / rejected transfer applications are discussed below.


-All Counties have a Bye-law governing the transfer of players from one club to another in the same county. The Bye-law will be consistent with these Rules. Byelaws can restrict players eligibility to transfer due to matters that the county considers appropriate, for example permanent residence, catchment area of new club etc.

-A county shall have an option in their Bye-laws to allow a player to play with a club in the area that they work, however, a Bye-law cannot stop a transfer being granted where the relevant Competitions Committee is satisfied that it is necessary to do so in order to protect a child from harm and to adhere to safeguarding commitments of the Association.


-A player transferring from one county to another for club purposes must satisfy the Bye-laws of that county. The application can be granted if there is no rejection from the club or county that the player is leaving within 10 days of the forwarding of the application to the county by the Central Council or Provincial Council.

-A player who would like to join a club in another county must apply for a transfer to the Provincial or Central Council. The application must be made online. This application will only be granted if the player has permanent residence in the new county.

-Exceptions to this Rule include: a player residing outside of his first county and wishes to transfer from his current club to his first club or the club which he played in immediately before leaving his first county. This player may transfer only if he has not played in a competition for the first time with his own club since January 1st.

-Another exception is a player who has other relevant connections with a club such as (a) players parents residence in that county at time of the players birth, (b) the county is the county of the players parents first club, or (c) the players parents were permanently residents in the catchment area of the club at time of players birth. This is subject to the club that the player is transferring to being in a county allowed by the Central Council to avail of this provision, and permission for the transfer given by the Dublin County Committees subject to the player turning 18 before the year of his transfer application.

-If a player avails of an exception, he may not thereafter declare for a club in another county.

-A player with permanent residence in a county that is not his first county, that has his residence terminated, cannot start a new competition in that county.


-Appeals against decisions made by the Committee above on a transfer case may be made in writing to the County Hearings Committee. This must be within 3 working days of the decision notification.

-An appeal against Inter-County transfer applications can be made to the Central Appeals Committee, once they obey the formalities of Rule 7.11 mentioned below.

-Written appeals must state the grounds on which the appeal is being made, and must hold the appellant player or their Clubs Secretary’s signature.

-An appeal will only be upheld if provisions of rule 7.11(o) are adhered to which states that appeals must be limited to only where a clear infringement or misapplication of the rule of the Decision-Maker or the Appellants right to a fair hearing has been compromised.

-In the case where an appeal has been lodged, referring to an incorrect rule, where the context makes clear the rule concerned, the Appellate Hearings Committee shall deem it in order.

-If a player transfers club (Inter-County) and transfers back within 96 weeks to the former county, they can re-join the club they were originally a member of.


-A player cannot play a Championship in a single year in more than 1 county, a player cannot play with 2 clubs in the same code in a single years Championship within a county, and a player cannot play Hurling with 1 club and football with another within a county, subject to restrictions in County Bye-Laws.

-Exceptions to these rules allowed by the County Committee include:

-A player of a club with no under 21 or younger grade team, according to County Bye-Laws and restrictions associated, may play with an independent under 21 or younger grade team in the same county, that does not hold the same name of an adult club in that county; or with another under 21 or younger grade team in the county that does not have the same name as an adult club in the county.

-A player who plays for these teams mentioned above, shall be registered as a member of his adult club and keep that membership during his participation of the under 21 team.

-A student of Higher Education Council’s Rules of Eligibility, a Higher Education

College or a fulltime third level Course can from the year of the Championship after

his enrolment in college up to and including the Championship year of his graduation, be in a recognised programme for over 12 weeks and can obtain a permit from the Central Council.

-A player who has transferred to a new club in a county and played in a prior Championship with his former club can play with his new club in only non-championship competitions of that year if he has not played with his former club in the exact same competition.

-A player joining a new club on Inter-County transfer cannot any longer play with his former club without a further transfer. If the player has already played with his former club in a year’s championship he can only play a non-championship with his new club in that same year.

-A player can play with another club in a non-trophy game only if he has permission of the County Committee or higher authority.


-A player can only play for the county of his residence and club.

-A player who has transferred to a club of a county other than his first county can play for his first county or his own clubs county.

-A player can declare for a county based on a relevant connection defined above, only if he is over 18, or subject to the county being allowed by Central Council to avail of this provision and the players declaration receiving permission of the Committee of the first county or own county, if the player is over 18.

-A declaration for a county can be lodged or revoked on or before the last day of March in any year, if a player transferred outside his first county after this date, he can on transfer declare for his first county. He may not thereafter declare for another county.

-A player shall have a club championship with a club, group or divisional team in a county in the prior or current year to be allowed to play any Inter-County competition with that county, except where it’s his first county, he has declared that county under other relevant connection with a particular county.

-A player who has commenced to play for a county in a competition can finish that competition and play for another county that he joins by declaration or transfer.

-A player cannot play for a second county in a competition in the same year.


-Regarding child safeguarding, as mentioned above, if a child is at risk of harm, a Bye-law shall not prevent a transfer being granted where the relevant Competitions Control Committee is satisfied that it is necessary to do so to protect a child from harm and to comply with the child safeguarding commitments of the Association.

  • -Harm can include mental and physical harm to the wellbeing of a player.

-Therefore, a likely outcome of transfer being granted to such a child would be likely.

-Regarding underage players (under 12-18’s) transferring clubs, if not within the same year as a players most recent championship from January 1st, once the laws surrounding catchment area and permanent residence are satisfied, the player,

  • subject to Bye-laws of their county, should be permitted to transfer, specifically regarding safeguarding issues surrounding their transfer application.
  • -Under the circumstances whereby an young player has not played GAA competitively in over a year’s time, the transfer request should be likely to be granted, as such a child would not be deemed to have played for two or more clubs in the same championship year.


GAA Dispute Resolutions Authority Explained

The Disputes Resolution Authority (“DRA”) is the independent arbitration body for GAA disputes. The DRA was established to avoid decisions made by the internal bodies within the GAA being appealed to the traditional Courts. Generally speaking the traditional Courts would prefer sporting disputes to be resolved by the National Governing Bodies who have the expertise to deal with such matters.

The DRA is the forum of last resort in respect of GAA disputes. It is supported by Rule 7.13(c) of the GAA Rules, which states that no member or body within the GAA may bring a Court action concerning a GAA dispute.

Normal rules of arbitration apply at the DRA, and witnesses can be called and evidence put forward in a similar manner to any arbitration. Three members of the DRA are required to hear a dispute, and there are further rules regarding the composition of the DRA. One member hearing a dispute must be a qualified legal practitioner and another one member must not be a qualified legal practitioner.

A reference is made to the DRA by either side, once all internal avenues of appeal are exhausted within the GAA. Typically, decisions of the GAA may be appealed once. For example, a local decision may be appealed provincially and thereafter referred to the DRA. A disciplinary decision of the Central Hearings Committee (“CHC”) may be appealed to the Central Appeals Committee (“CAC”) and thereafter referred to the DRA.

The DRA is specifically not an appeal, as a full re-hearing of the facts of a dispute cannot take place unless both sides agree and the DRA agrees to conduct a full re-hearing.
As the GAA is a voluntary organisation, and all members involved are voluntary, DRA hearings usually take place in the evening at a neutral venue, and as such they often run late into the night. Our firm recently acted for 4 intercounty Tipperary players with the case taking place late into the evening.

The DRA will not investigate whether it would have made a different decision. Rather, it will adjudicate upon whether the decision was made correctly by the relevant GAA body, and whether fair procedures were applied. Fair procedures are paramount in all sporting tribunals and as such this is the main area that the DRA will focus upon as well as adherence to the rule book.

More details can be found on the website for the DRA below.