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Stop the clock to thwart time-wasters at free-kicks, says Morgan


Time for change: Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan wants the rules amended for players taking ‘45s’
Time for change: Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan wants the rules amended for players taking ‘45s’
Con O'Callaghan
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

Niall Morgan has called for a rule change after the treatment he received while making his way up the pitch to take a '45' in Tyrone's All-Ireland semi-final loss to Kerry on Sunday.

Mickey Harte's side were awarded a '45' in the 59th minute and goalkeeper Morgan, having already scored one in the first half, came up the field to take it, but he was subjected to being repeatedly shoved in the chest by Kerry substitute Tommy Walsh, who was booked for his actions.

Morgan believes there is a simple way around the issue; by stopping the clock for free-kicks, as happens in rugby.

"To be honest, it has happened plenty of times," he said.

"I think it is a case that they should just stop the clock for a free-kick and it would leave it that nobody is trying to slow anybody down. You stop the clock for a free-kick and it is a bit like rugby and a penalty - you stop the clock and the kicker can take as long as he wants."

He continued: "They love changing all these rules, how about one that helps free-takers? A lot of the time, I come up and take frees because the players are tired - it's not that we don't have a forward that can't take a free-kick, sometimes they have done about 200 metres worth of sprints and they are not ready to take a free-kick.

"So if you give them 20 seconds or whatever to recover, it might benefit the game."

Morgan has now played seven seasons for Tyrone, yielding Ulster titles in 2016 and 2017, but there appears to be a glass ceiling as to what they can achieve. Their record of not having beaten Mayo, Dublin or Kerry in Championship football since 2008 is held up as evidence that they are incapable of winning an All-Ireland.

Morgan, however, dismisses such talk, saying: "If I didn't think I would finish with an All-Ireland medal, I would be gone. I wouldn't be playing.

"Whenever I started on the panel in 2013, I was playing soccer in the Irish League and I was a young, first-choice keeper and I probably could have pushed myself on.

"I don't think I would have ever got across the water but whenever I spoke to Mickey (Harte), he laid out the plans and if I would have thought I wouldn't have won an All-Ireland, I would have said no, point-blankly, and moved on.

"Every year it starts from scratch and your goal is to reach an All-Ireland final. Last year it was really disappointing to lose.

"Since I was born, I can't really remember the '95 final, I was only four years old.

"So all through '03, '05 and '08, you were sitting in the crowd and Tyrone were winning All-Irelands, that's just the way it was.

"We finally got back to one last year and this year it would have been great to get back to one, to avenge last year's defeat. But that's the way it goes."

Tyrone faced Dublin in the decider 12 months ago and a brilliant surge from the Metropolitans after the first 20 minutes put them in a commanding position.

It was a similar story on Saturday night after Mayo had coped well in the first half, before Dublin turned on the burners after an early Con O'Callaghan goal in the second half.

Morgan knows the challenge Kerry are facing in the final.

"Dublin aren't going for the five-in-a-row for no reason," he said.

"Everybody points the finger at all the money they are getting. I completely refuse to do that. They have a crop of lads who have come along and are willing to put in the work.

"If you look at soccer teams and the amount of money that is going into it, it doesn't make a player work harder on the pitch.

"All credit should be going to that crop of players that are really driving it on and they obviously have a manager now who trusts them in all aspects of the game.

"Sometimes you have to sit back and admire them and say that it is a breath of fresh air that they can go at it any way.

"If you want to play it defensively, they will go at you. If you play toe to toe, they will match you."

However, he believes Kerry have the tools to mount a credible challenge and stop Dublin becoming the first team to achieve five consecutive All-Ireland football titles.

"They will have the same attitude we would have had," Morgan insisted.

"They will not be going up to Croke Park on the first of September to get beat, or thinking they could give Dublin a game.

"They will be coming thinking, 'we are going to win this.' And all the best to them. If they move the ball quickly and don't give Dublin a chance to settle, why not?"

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