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Rule changes dropped were only in there as a distraction

By Declan Bogue

First, the rule regarding kickouts fell by the wayside.

Then the sin bin proposal hit the rocks.

Just as we expected and even predicted on these pages a few weeks ago, the suite of rule changes that were going to be brought in for the upcoming pre-season tournaments, and possibly the National League, was unworkable in its entirety, and some rules were simply Trojan Horses designed to swallow up all the critical analysis in order to let other rule changes fly under the radar.

What was clever about this was the first three proposals were the most sensible and, crucially, the most workable.

To recap on them; a limit on consecutive handpasses of three before the ball must be played by the foot, that a sideline kick must travel forward (unless 13 metres or less from the opponent's endline) and the additional mark; that is, if a pass is played from outside the 45 metre mark and is successfully caught inside the 20 metre line, a free kick will be awarded.

The final two had no grounding in reality.

To leave four midfielders in an acre of space, without interference from opponents, and expect them to contest a high ball with a low-percentage chance of achieving it was madness.

The funny thing was, that was a rule change Joe Brolly was pushing a number of years ago. Matter of fact, the Truagh Gaels club in Monaghan actually played an exhibition match with some recognisable faces from all over Ulster in this way for their John Treanor Memorial Cup in 2015.

At the time, it was thought the proposed rule was best forgotten about, so therefore it was surprising that it re-emerged years later, only to be nudged off the table after being used on a trial basis in a few Thursday night college games.

And now we learn that the idea of sin-binning a player that has been awarded two yellow cards is to be disposed of. How any rule change that rewarded persistent fouling or offences would be tolerated flies in the face of the problems Gaelic football suffers through ill-discipline.

As we expected, it was nothing more than an exercise in kite-flying, designed to mop up the initial fury and hot-take material before they got down to the real business in hand.

Clever boyos.

Belfast Telegraph

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