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Proposed football rules changes are an embarrassment

By Declan Bogue

This Friday night, Coiste Banaiste (Management Committee) of the GAA will recommend five rules changes that the Standing Committee on the Playing Rules have suggested can be used for a trial basis.

They are as follows: 1) A restriction on the handpass, with only three consecutive handpasses permitted.

2) That sideline kicks have to go forward, unless the kick is within the 20 metre line of the opposing team.

3) There will be an Australian Rules 'mark' whereby any ball that travels inside the 45 metre mark, having passed 20 metres, can be claimed as a 'mark', granting a free-kick, rather than playing on.

4) Black cards will now result in a 10-minute spell in a sin-bin, and;

5) The kickout now has to go into the 45 metre mark, with the kickout advanced to the 20 metre mark.

Whenever any proposed rule changes are floated there is usually a flood of criticism. Giving out is part of our DNA here.

But really, most of the proposed changes listed above are exactly as Monaghan player Darren Hughes labelled them a few weeks back; 'an embarrassment'.

To take them in turn.

1. This rule will probably not make it even to the trial period. Asking a referee to count consecutive handpasses along with other changes in the game will be seen as too onerous. Besides, one of the goals of 2018 came in the All-Ireland club football final when Corofin's Michael Farragher potted the ball to the Nemo Rangers net after six consecutive handpasses.

2. No great deal. Should pass, and may even make it permanently into the rule book.

3. Completely ridiculous. This will alter Gaelic football completely. There is no way of measuring 20 metres when players are running at top speed. It may pass for a trial period, but the ensuing debacle will ensure it does not deface the game long term.

4. There is merit in this. The black card is no real punishment to a team as they get a new player on. Making it punishable by a numerical disadvantage is sensible, even though the time could be increased from 10 minutes to 15.

5. The worst. This will result in any team defending against a kickout stationing themselves behind the 45 metre line. It might be intended to encourage aerial contests but, in practise, will prevent it due to the laws of unintended consequences.

The GAA are actively seeking solutions to some of the problems that Gaelic football has.

But at times it is hard to think of another sporting body that indulges in the level of navel-gazing as those charged with preserving this sport.

Is there any credible chance that any of these rules may actually enter the rule book? The sideline one. That's a lot of man hours for something so trivial.

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