Following Mickey Harte's strong opposition to changes to the current playing rules of Gaelic football as proposed by the Football Review Committee, Donegal assistant manager Rory Gallagher now claims the GAA public were “hoodwinked” over the leading manner of the online questionnaire that Eugene McGee and his committee used as the basis for their findings.
“I disagreed with the FRC being set up. I think they went with a clear agenda,” Gallagher said.
“I think most people that respond to things like that have an issue with it.”
Expanding on this, he said: “I think the questions were very leading. There's an agenda there to get the mark back in, which I disagree with.
“I can put up with the amended proposal now with the black card, but again I don't think it's right. I don't think there's a need for it.
“I think they threw out there the yellow card and suspension for games to come back with a softer approach. To be honest I think they tried to hoodwink people.”
Gallagher is joined by an growing band of inter-county managers who have expressed their dissatisfaction with the FRC findings, including Jim McGuinness, Harte, Aidan O'Rourke and Mick O'Dwyer.
Within the national discussion, it has been suggested that perhaps such figures are too close to the game to have an objective viewpoint.
It's an assertion Gallagher rejects, citing a line within the report that reads, ‘When a survey of over 3,000 people was conducted by the FRC, 75% of respondents stated football at senior county level was either Very Good or Good’.
With that as evidence, he explained: “We heard Aoghan Farrell saying about crowds being up, that means the enjoyment level is there for people.
“There's more exposure on the TV than ever. The crowds are going up, that tells you that you have a very attractive game.”
One of the main proposals of the FRC that is expected to come up for debate at Congress is the re-introduction of a ‘mark’, awarded for a clean catch after a kickout.
While Gallagher has already used the example of Donegal midfielder Neil Gallagher's superlative fielding in the All-Ireland semi-final against Cork, he revealed that they had worked hard to turn Gallagher's aerial ability into a weapon, against what is perceived to be the best midfield in the country.
“Look at why he was isolated, it was a good kickout to him, he wasn't swarmed for any of those,” said Donegal’s assistant boss.
“It's [the mark rule] actually discriminatory against smaller midfielders. You are rewarding the best high fielders, who are generally the biggest men. It's rewarding one skill over another and I don't agree at all.”
He also sounded a grave warning to other levels of football when he said: “If I was coaching at underage and there's a big midfielder and if we haven't somebody to compete with him, I would say to retreat; give them their kickout on their own line.”