Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

GAA rule changes set to make big ‘mark’

Peter McGrath, who guided Down to All Ireland glory in both 1991 and 1994, is ideally placed to assess the relative merits of the experimental rules.

For in addition to working his magic with numerous GAA sides he also worked the oracle as manager of the Ireland team in the International Rules series.

It’s fair to say he has mixed feelings on the proposed changes, concerned that at times the GAA rings the changes merely for the sake of it.

He does though see some merit in the introduction of the mark from a kick out.

The rule as it stands reads ‘a free kick to be awarded to the player making a catch between the 45 metre lines directly from a kick out. The free kick is to be taken by the player who makes the catch unless he is injured prior to the free kick being taken.’

“The mark was something that worked out quite well in the International Rules,” said McGrath.

“But much depends just on how well it’s executed.”

But he has absolutely no time for the proposed change to the taking of a penalty kick.

The new rule reads ‘the penalty should be taken from a spot which is located 11 metres from the centre of the goal line.’

“I can’t for the life of me see why this rule is being altered. It now gives the attacking side a decided advantage, but as I see it, it’s a case of change simply for the sake of it,” he said.

It’s hard to disagree with those sentiments for there are well meaning people in the GAA who feel the need to propose rule changes at every possible opportunity.

It’s not as if the game needs them, but what is urgently required are referees prepared to make the hard calls when it comes to enforcing the rules.

For years there has been a major problem in the sport with indiscipline and the reality is that nothing has changed.

Players have to realise that if they break the rules they will be made accountable.

Too often in major games, both at county and club level, players have blatantly disregarded the rules safe in the knowledge that they would escape censure.

Only when the GAA tackles this problem should they tamper with the playing rules.

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