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Clearing the county calendar gives no real benefit

Thank heavens for the leaking of the proposed rule changes to Gaelic football on Tuesday afternoon. We knew there would be something meaty to write about.

Actually, naw, there's nothing in it. A brief summary of what the grandly-titled Standing Committee on the Playing Rules are proposing amounts to sideline balls having to be kicked forward, no more than three consecutive handpasses are to be allowed, and a second mark, where a player can take a mark from within 20 metres as long as the pass came from outside the 45metres line.

I like the look of the last one. But it is fatally flawed as designated 'catchers' will exploit the rule by feigning injury, allowing the specialist free-taker to convert chances.

There's also another one about only two players from each team being inside the two 45 metre lines for kickouts, which is pretty ludicrous and not worthy of the mention it's getting here. The whole thing smacks in fact of a dummy run, a few silly kites flown in the air (I almost forgot, a sin-bin is included for old-times' sake) to stir up some reaction and get the hot take merchants all worked up, before they come back with some more sensible proposals.

But here we are in the first week of October, talking of such things. You might be tempted to ask, where has the GAA season gone?

If this was the brave new world of those arguing for a condensed All-Ireland Championship, then you are welcome to it.

Normally by this stage of the year the heat of an All-Ireland final replay would still be in your bones. Instead, we are asked to get worked up by round-robin Championship games. There's no doubt about it, the arguments used to push the club scene centre stage had a definite bang of 'eat your greens' about it.

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And all the while the various competitions that sustained our meagre winters are withering on the vine.

The Railway Cup was lopped off by the GAA without any real consultation with the stake holders. The International Rules series will not be happening in 2018 and there is no guarantee it will be coming back any time soon.

But these are empty weeks. Empty because the GAA cleared out the summer and then left it to the provincial councils to arrange their club series. Which leaves practically every single county final on the 21st and 28th of this month.

Who'd have thought we would hunger for the return of the O'Fiaich Cup as much?


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