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Monaghan county final shows there's no need for rule changes

Throwback: Ballybay’s Paul Finlay and Ryan O’Toole of Scotstown in action during Sunday’s game
Throwback: Ballybay’s Paul Finlay and Ryan O’Toole of Scotstown in action during Sunday’s game
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

Oh what a joy it was to be in Clones last Sunday!

For those tuning in to TG4 to watch the live coverage of the Monaghan county final, they might have been tempted to approach their television to the side and give it a thump, such was the lack of massed defences and sweepers. Surely it was but a trick of the eye?

But no. It's almost as if Scotstown manager Kieran Donnelly and Ballybay's supremo Mickey Donnelly had a secret pact to dispense with all the accoutrements of the modern game and give their players a hall pass for the day.

The irony wasn't lost on those present that it came at the end of a week where the Standing Committee on Playing Rules flew a kite of five proposed rule changes to improve Gaelic football as a spectacle.

When it is contested like this, there is no need for any alteration. Both teams kicked the leather off the football and referee Anthony Marron earned real admiration from those in the press box for his performance. On a couple of calls he might have awarded black cards, but he chose instead to award yellows and the game was better for it.

Scotstown made the most of their chances while Ballybay, despite a late flurry, couldn't quite hit the net despite a few chances, some of them carved out by Paul Finlay, still a gorgeous footballer after all these years.

In his first year of retirement, former director-general of the GAA Pairic Duffy was part of the Scotstown backroom team and he had the privilege of watching Darren Hughes lift the Mick Duffy Cup, named after the late father of Duffy. He looked like a man reborn.

Afterwards, a knot of journalists approached Scotstown goalkeeper Rory Beggan. On the same ground during the height of the summer, Beggan delivered a kickout something in the region of 70 metres against Kerry in the opening round of the Super8s. Phenomenal.

Yet, facing into the wind on Sunday, he ballooned one restart that caught in the wind and dropped short of his near 45-metre line.

A reminder; one of the proposed rule changes determines that the ball has to cross the 45-metre line. If the biggest kick in football couldn't cross it into a wind, what chance has the small goalkeeper at Under-14 level.

When asked his opinion on that particular rule change, Beggan just answered emphatically: "No."

He could have been talking about any of the potential changes.

Belfast Telegraph


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