Longford Leader columnist Mattie Fox: New rules will serve to improve the spectacle of Gaelic Football

Mattie Fox

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Longford Leader columnist Mattie Fox: New rules will serve to improve the spectacle of Gaelic Football

Longford Leader columnist Mattie Fox: New rules will serve to improve the spectacle of Gaelic Football

The new GAA rules which are being trialed during the league, are coming under incredibly negative pressure from every manager that has spoken so far, and even a few noted players.

Methinks they doth protest too much!

When several factions are all on the same hymn sheet, which is being repeated at every turn, it must be organised, perhaps by default.

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Managers must fear something awful, or extraordinary, or terrible.

There’s nothing extraordinary, or awful, or terrible about the proposed new rules except they’ll stop many of the bad traits that have taken over the game of football for the last three years or so, in an increasingly more negative way.

The new rules will serve to improve the spectacle of Gaelic Football immeasurably and hopefully result in better attendances.
Take a few examples.

The foot passing has now been outperformed by at least three to one, against hand passes. It’s common practice to see maybe thirteen defenders behind the ball, forcing the hand passes to become so multiplicitous that one would be glad to have a newspaper to catch up on whatever the topic of the day is on the Sunday morning papers.

Yes, it is that boring.

The entire malaise started innocently enough, when Donegal made a radical change in the way Gaelic Football was subjected to new systems, which were complicated at first, and in fact quite complex to follow. But they quickly became utterly boring.
The GAA and everyone in Croke Park, should stick to their guns, although this very weekend they capitulated and overturned the handpass rule.


Well maybe it was confusing, and maybe it didn’t really improve the game as a spectacle.

But it was very early to cave in.

If they fold any further in the face of such organised propaganda against the new rules, they’ll be finished before they’re given any chance at all of survival.

It’s time for the GAA to take a leaf out of the rule changes in other sports, and simply present the rules, after real research, and oblige every manager to toe the line.

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In the past two years, Football has become a dreadful spectacle, for anyone who watches the games most Sunday’s.

Short kick outs, short handpasses, passing back towards the goalkeeper every second pass in a defensive tactic, sideline kicks being played backwards.....it makes for utterly boring games.

The people are speaking in their droves, and Gaelic football, the single most popular sport in Ireland, is coming under threat from rugby, and soccer, neither of which are national games, in the true sense.

But both codes are attractive in their own way, and each are run by ruling bodies that take little direction from players or managers.

They are both professional organisations, of course.

Of course both take their due diligence before changing any rules, but once the rule is changed, that’s it.

No going back.

The GAA as an amateur body, behaves properly by taking on board plenty of research, from various members all around the country.

But when they make a decision, it should not be up for debate for at least two years. It seems odd to change back after the league, giving lobbyists more fodder to highlight the fact that it didn’t change the game enough.

Hard to portray huge changes when the ground is wet, and sticky, and players are in heavy duty training.

When the ground is dry, the game would be much better, and massively faster, if the same rules were used, as in the league.
The GAA is ruled by some of the most experienced lobbyists in existence. Lobbyists who don’t appear in Croke Park - not during the week!

GAA managers do give a lot of time to the game, and it’s promotion, but they should be encouraged to embrace the new rules, and give them a chance to bed in and be accepted.

Attendances will be affected greatly by rules that prevent every kick from the ground going backwards.

The handpass rule which is now dead, could have been stated differently, I thought.

But whatever about the complexities of the definitions, the GAA are perfectly correct to change the rules.

Otherwise, we’d see the demise of big crowds at serious games, and potentially the partial demise of the game itself.

That would be shameful, for the most popular sport in the land. A very clever GAA man to whom I spoke about this, made the point that one thing that will affect attendances, with be TV coverage. It’s a great point.

Finally, when will the GAA cop on to be big enough to steal one rule that has become the norm in soccer games. That is, using a white chalk to mark a free spot.

Every game I watch is belittled by players stealing extra yards or metres at every chance they get.

Time to cut that out of the game.

Gaelic footballers should at least, be honest.

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