independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

O'Shea's blast for 'needless' football changes

Mayo star Aidan O'Shea pictured in Croke Park yesterday

MAYO midfield star Aidan O'Shea has slammed the latest recommendations to change Gaelic football, claiming some of the proposals are "needless."

Earlier this week, the Football Review Committee (FRC) proposed a host of changes that will go before Congress next year, but O'Shea believes many of the suggestions won't see the light of day.

While O'Shea is largely unimpressed, the proposed introduction of a 30-metre penalty for backchat to a referee is one he agrees with and he hinted that this year's All-Ireland final might have had a different complexion had it been in play.

"It's pretty obvious if you look back over the tape," said the Breaffy man. "You can see the referee brought the ball up on numerous occasions but it is only 13 metres. It made no difference to Donegal because they got players behind the ball.

"I would have brought it up even further (than 30m). It would have made a big difference to Mayo in the All-Ireland final if it was in last season. Cillian O'Connor kicked the ball (over the bar) easy from the 45-metre line against Dublin. So there was a few opportunities. But look, it's in the past, you can't be dwelling on those kind of things.

"But 30 metres is a big difference. If it's Kerry that you're playing, then Bryan Sheehan will probably kick points from there. It'll stop you from having backchat with the referee or standing in front of a quick free. It'll make a huge difference."

O'Shea was in Croke Park yesterday for the draws for the 2013 Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cups, where his DIT side, who are league champions, were drawn away to NUI Galway.

But he has little time for many of the other key proposals that will go before Congress next year.

O'Shea was nominated for an All Star at midfield this year but he doesn't see anything to be gained from the introduction of the mark, another FRC recommendation. "I think it's needless. I don't see a huge advantage. You see games nowadays where teams nearly let you catch the ball anyway. So I don't see it as an advantage as a midfielder," he said.

"If it comes in, it comes in. You look at Donegal v Dublin in 2011, (Donegal) let them catch the ball anyway. So what difference does it make? I don't think there's a need for it."

And while 13pc of all frees occur around the pick-up, the Mayo man wants to see this traditional skill kept. "I wouldn't agree with the pick-up off the ground either. If that rule is brought in across the board, you're going to lose the art of the jab lift, kids aren't going to have known about the skill of picking the ball up with the foot."

The proposed new yellow card rule, that would see a player who picks up a caution forced to sit out the rest of the game, is one of the more radical proposals. But O'Shea doesn't see it getting the necessary backing at Congress – and he feels it would do little to eradicate some of the more cynical tackling in the game anyway.

"There was a lot made of it about Mayo after the Dublin game, but it's been in the game for years. For people to say that it's only come in in the last five, six, seven years, that's an absolutely ridiculous statement to make," he said.

"If we're five or six points up and a fella is going for goal in the last few minutes, we're going to pull him down.

"Whether that means getting a yellow card and going off, they're still going to do it. We'll bring somebody on instead. So it's part of the game, I don't know how you stop it, but they're not going to deal with it with the yellow card anyway."

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