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The Killarney Rules: Important soccer laws came from meeting in Killarney in 1905



Tunisia v Serbia and Montenegro. August 17, 2004. The Olympic Games in Athens. Nikola Milojević hunkers down on his goal line with his hands on his knees.

Astoundingly, the Serbian goalkeeper is about to face his fourth penalty kick in just two minutes. With the game tied at 1-1, Tahitian referee Charles Ariiotima has already ordered Tunisia to retake their 78th-minute spot kick three times because of encroaching attackers. For his part, Tunisian midfielder Mohamed Jedidi cuts a fairly forlorn figure; he has now beaten Milojević three times without forcing a change on the scoreboard.

The mood around the stadium is one of incredulity.

The Tunisians have now (very dramatically) withdrawn all of their players from the vicinity of the penalty area, so there’s no threat of encroachment this time around. Surely this one will count?

Jedidi steps up… Milojević saves! The drama is over… Or is it?

The assistant on the endline has raised his flag. The Serbian No. 1 advanced from his goal line before the ball was kicked so Ariiotima is signalling for yet another retake.

Milojević puts his hands on his head and wheels away into his goal, completely dejected. The ref is surrounded by angry Serbians and Montenegrins. Andrija Delibašić squares up to the assistant and when Ariiotima intervenes, Delibašić genuinely looks as though he might actually kill him. The whole thing has descended into farce.

Take five. It’s Jedidi again. Up he steps… Another save! But Jedidi heads home the rebound! That’s the end of that!

Wait… The flag is up again. Milojević stepped off his line again. If Jedidi wants to give Tunisia the lead, he’ll have to do it at the sixth time of asking.

With 82:08 on the clock (four minutes after the initial penalty was awarded), Jedidi steps forward and smashes the ball into the bottom corner. He turns and looks anxiously at the referee, who points at the centre circle and calmly jogs back towards the halfway line.

Tunisia eventually run out 3-2 winners (neither side qualified for the knockout stages) and so endeth one of the most bizarre passages of play in the history of association football.


You’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with Killarney. What connects this crazy soccer incident involving a Serbian, a Tunisian and a Tahitian at the Athens Olympics, and a small town in County Kerry in the southwest of Ireland?

Well, on a balmy Saturday evening in June of 1905, the International Football Association Board convened at the Lake Hotel on the banks of Lough Leane where they decided, among other things, that goalkeepers must stand on their goal line for penalty kicks.

Since 1886, the IFAB have been the guardians of the Laws of the Game. Initially comprised of the four football associations of the “home nations” (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales), the group is now made up of the four British football associations plus FIFA. They are the only body authorised to make changes to the rules that govern the game of soccer.

That AGM in Killarney in 1905 was the first time the IFAB met outside of the modern-day UK and they have only met in what is now the Republic of Ireland on one other occasion (Donegal in 1909).


The minutes of the Killarney meeting outline a number of significant rule changes, some of which are still in use to this day.

As well as the amendment which stipulates that a keeper must “not advance beyond his goal line” for penalties (the previous law simply stated that keepers must stand in their “goal area”, i.e. six-yard box), another notable “Killarney rule” changed how referees carried out a drop ball.

Prior to 1905, drop balls in soccer were actually more akin to hop balls in Gaelic football in that the referee threw the ball up into the air.

A motion proposing that the ball be dropped to the ground before players can challenge for it was passed in Killarney, and that law was in effect right up until last year when the IFAB removed the competitive element of the restart. The ball is still dropped to the floor, however, as has been the case since the landmark AGM in the Lake Hotel.

Another rule stipulating that goals may only be scored from certain free kicks was also agreed upon and this is still around, albeit in slightly different terms. Nowadays such free kicks would be classed as “direct”, while others would fall into the “indirect” category.

It was also decided that defenders had to stand at least six yards back from an opposition free kick (this was subsequently pushed back to 10 yards in 1913) and that the outer casing of footballs must be made of leather.


[caption id="attachment_32696" align="aligncenter" width="573"] The meetings of the IFAB meeting in Killarney in 1905.[/caption]


Some other minor resolutions were made on the night and after a vote of thanks was passed to presiding chairman DW Foy of the Irish FA, the meeting came to an end.

It’s amazing to think that our sleepy little town and the Lake Hotel played a small role in defining the global game. Whenever a goalkeeper strays from their line for a penalty, be it in a park in Lagos, or in the World Cup final, or on a beach in Rio de Janeiro, they’re breaking a rule that was made in Killarney.

It really is fascinating.

But maybe don’t mention it to Nikola Milojević.

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Massive Park Road housing development given green light

A private developer has been given planning permission to build 249 new residential units at Upper Park Road. The development, which will be built on a recently cleared site near […]




A private developer has been given planning permission to build 249 new residential units at Upper Park Road.

The development, which will be built on a recently cleared site near An Post’s sorting office, will include a variety of properties from five-bed houses to single apartments, along with a crèche and over 500 car spaces and over 300 bike spaces.

The development has been welcomed by local councillor Martin Grady.

“Killarney has a massive housing shortage so this is very positive. It will retain young families in the area, stimulating economic growth,” he said. “After 17 years of different planning applications it’s finally coming to fruition.”

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Ballydribeen residents living in fear due to anti-social behaviour

Residents in the Ballydribeen are living in fear as a result of increased anti-social behaviour in the estate. Several serious incidents in the estate have resulted in several Garda visits […]




Residents in the Ballydribeen are living in fear as a result of increased anti-social behaviour in the estate.

Several serious incidents in the estate have resulted in several Garda visits in the last week.

Local councillor Martin Grady told the Killarney Advertiser that residents are “living in fear” as a result of very serious incidents in the last week alone.

One house in the estate was badly damaged when fire crackers were placed inside a letter box.

Another house had its windows smashed in over the weekend.

“It’s a major problem,” added Grady after meeting residents there earlier this week.

One of the most serious incidents occurred on Tuesday night.

A passing motorists had rocks thrown at his car while driving along the bypass whch is adjacent to the estate.
Taking to social media, local primary-school teacher Pádraig O’Sullivan posted:

“Travelling home tonight, at 11.05pm on the Killarney side of the bypass our car was hit by a rock – not a pebble – from the Ballydribben side , which hit the passenger door.

“It was centimetres away from hitting the window where my father, who is visually impaired, was sitting.

“This could have caused catastrophic permanent injury to him.

“The Killarney Garda were on the scene within three minutes.

“They can’t be patrolling the bypass all night.

“It comes down to parenting. You should know where your children are at this hour and be able to teach them what’s funny and what ruin a person’s life or cause a fatal crash.“

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