ON Monday, the GAA Football Review Committee (FRC) launched the first of a two-part report which reviews the current state of Gaelic football at club and county level, the current playing rules, the role of administrators, coaches, managers and referees.
It also includes proposals for changes to the playing rules and other aspects of the game and is available to read in full on gaa.ie and frc.ie.
The second report, focusing on championship structures and related matters, will be published in early 2013.
The report is the result of the largest consultation ever undertaken by the GAA on any matter over an eight month period with up to 4,000 people from 32 counties and abroad consulted in various ways. 3,170 people took part in an FRC online survey about various aspects of the game. Cynical/tactical fouling and deliberate time-wasting were among the top dislikes among survey respondents. The majority supported some form of sin bin style discipline to counter deliberate cynical play by a player and team. Referee inconsistency and also disrespect for referees were among the top five dislikes while the top things people like about the game include high catching, kicking skills and long range scores.
Speaking at the launch the FRC Chairman, Eugene McGee, said, 'The overriding conclusion that has emerged from all this research is that Gaelic football is in a fairly healthy state. But while the basic structure of the game is in good shape there are some specific matters that have arisen in recent years which are a source of complaint from many football people and these are what the FRC was requested by GAA President Liam Ó Néill to examine and if necessary propose changes for the better".
As part of the report, statistical analysis of over 60 matches, half from 2001/2002 and half from 2010/2011 including minor and adult club and county grade across all four provinces, helped the committee ascertain clearly defined patterns in the development of the game in that period. Also over 300 GAA club and county stakeholders such as referees, players, managers / coaches and administrators attended seven focus groups across all four provinces for in-depth discussions based on the FRC survey findings.
Finally, the FRC also had in-depth consultations with various other key stakeholders and committees such as the GPA, GAA Medical representatives, inter-county managers, the referees committee, Higher Education Council, provincial coaches, GAA fixtures committee members and many more.
Referring to the proposed changes FRC chairman Eugene McGee explained: 'These are changes which are meant to enhance the quality of Gaelic football and make it more enjoyable for players and spectators. They should also make the game more attractive to young players which is very important for the promotion of the game. Practically all those proposals had majority support when we consulted the wider football public and we are confident we will all enjoy a better quality of football as a result".
GAA President Liam Ó Néill thanked the committee for their work and welcomed the debate that their findings will generate.
He said: "We are very fortunate to be able to call on individuals of the caliber of Eugene McGee and his committee members who have worked tirelessly to oversee a consultative process about football that has been without rival.
"Their interest in the game is huge and their findings are thought provoking. In many ways the contents of this report confirmed what we already knew; that the game of football is a fantastic spectacle but if minor changes would tidy up some aspects of playing rules to further enhance it, it is incumbent on us to have this debate."