“Minors tweaks needed instead of radical overhaul” - McGee

Alan Foley


Alan Foley

Donegal defender Eamon McGee believes there is no need for a radical overhaul of Gaelic football in light of the proposals published by the Football Review Committee (FRC) this week.

Donegal defender Eamon McGee believes there is no need for a radical overhaul of Gaelic football in light of the proposals published by the Football Review Committee (FRC) this week.

The FRC has put forward 18 proposals, including 10 rule changes, in the first of its two-part report into the state of the game. Chaired by former Offaly football manager Eugene McGee, the report is the result of the largest consultation ever undertaken by the GAA.

The first part of the report was revealed in Croke Park on Tuesday morning and a mark would come into play for kickouts that land past the 45 metre line.

Other proposals include players being removed from the game, with replacements allowed, if they receive a yellow card. Only deliberate fouls would receive a yellow card, with teams not being allowed to replace players once they accrue more than three yellow cards.

A countdown clock, similar to that operated in ladies football is proposed, as is making all adult club games 70 minutes in duration.

A clean pick up of the football and an increase in the number of substitutions to six are also put forward.

When a foul is committed, the offending player must place the ball on the ground immediately or else the ball will be brought forward by 30 metres.

However, Donegal’s All-Ireland winning defender McGee is of the opinion only a few tweaks are needed, although a clearer definition of the tackle is necessary.

“For me, Gaelic football is a good product when it’s played right and there’s no need for a radical overhaul, just a bit of tweaking here and there,” the Gaoth Dobhair clubman said.

“From a defender’s point of view, the actual definition of the tackle needs firming up. Now, it’s hard to know exactly where you stand. One referee will let something go while another might pull you up on it and to pick up a yellow card and have to be substituted because of their interpretation is harsh.

“Therefore, it’s a dangerous route to be taking and opinion will continue to differ on whether a foul is deliberate of accidental.”

McGee also thinks the rejuvenation of high-fielding this summer in the championship means there’s no need to bring in a mark, where the player that catches the ball from a kick-out and is afforded 13 metres from all other players to play the ball unchallenged.

“I wouldn’t agree with the introduction of a mark between the 45-metre lines,” McGee added “The idea they’re proposing is understandable as it would cut out swarming but you shouldn’t be rewarded for something that’s really only a basic skill in the game. This summer, players like Neil Gallagher of Donegal and Mayo’s Barry Moran and Aidan O’Shea proved there’s still some great high-fielding in the game so there’s no need for the match to be stopped.”

McGee, though, wasn’t dismissive of all the proposals that came out on Tuesday and the bottom line, he feels, is to make the game as fast and exciting as possible.

“One of the best of the FRC’s recommendations would be the clock displaying at county grounds,” he said. “It’s certainly an advantage having it at Croke Park and something we could learn from ladies’ football.

“I would have no bother playing all games, whether club or county, for a

70-minute duration and it would build up club players’ fitness levels.

“A clean pick-up and a clearly defined advantage rule would also help the speed of the game and the bottom line is that we’re trying to have the sport fast and exciting.”

Of the 18 suggestions, 10 require the thumbs up from Congress in April and none are proposed for a trial period only. Four of the more significant playing rule alterations — the mark, the pick-up, the yellow card changes and the addition of 10 extra minutes on the duration of club games — would not be introduced until 2014, if accepted.

However, next summer’s championship might include the proposals - the advantage rule, the score with the open hand, the introduction of a time clock and the stipulation that offences which carry a 13m sanction would in future bring with it 30 metres - so there’s some big calls for Congress.