Radical GAA proposals can ‘make game cleaner’
THE radical overhaul of Gaelic football's rules that are in the pipeline will clean up the game, according to the man leading the campaign for change.
The chairman of the Football Review Committee (FRC), Eugene McGee, is confident the game will be a better spectacle as a result of the 18 proposals and is predicting the number of frees can be reduced by up to 25pc.
A number of the recommendations made by the committee – which were aired publicly yesterday after six months of extensive consultation – will go before Congress next March, with the remainder up for approval by 2014.
McGee believes that the cumulative effect will be a cleaner game with less cynicism, less disruption and a sharp reduction in yellow cards and frees.
The headline proposals centre on cynicism and aim to make a yellow card a much more punitive sanction than it currently is.
The FRC believe teams operate systematic fouling routines and have asked that yellow cards be accumulated so anyone who picks up three in an inter-county season in any one grade should be given a two-match ban.
In addition, they have revisited the 2009 disciplinary experiment whereby yellow cards warrant mandatory substitution. And no substitutions will be permitted after the third yellow card.
That element of it is a risk, but McGee believes it is "fair."
By allowing a mark and a clean pick-up, in addition to the new yellow-card guidelines and the proposal to move the ball forward 30 metres as punishment for disruptive actions, the average number of frees can reduce by 10 over the next three years.
Highly respected Irish Independent columnist McGee also believes the card count can drop to "two or three" per game from the current average of 6.6.
"There are also people who consistently get a yellow card, there are counties nowadays who allow yellow cards to be created and it is done in such a way that none of their people will get two. In other words, yellow cards are not just accidental in some cases, they are deliberate," noted McGee.
The committee have also proposed a five-second advantage rule and an increase to 70 minutes for all games at adult level.
They have however declined to limit the number of hand-passes in a game, with McGee describing it as a "trend."
"It comes and goes at the behest of good managers who decide that they have the kind of players that suit the hand-pass," he said.
The committee listened to the view of 4,000 people and are satisfied that over 70pc of those who made submissions agree with their proposals.
"This is the association speaking," said GAA director general Paraic Duffy.
For his part, GAA president Liam O'Neill described it as "the most extensive trawl ever done by any organisation."