Farrell and Joyce hail new backpass change but not McEntee and Harte

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell

Frank Roche

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell has backed the new prohibition on outfield players who receive a kickout from passing the ball straight back to their goalkeeper.

His Galway counterpart, Pádraic Joyce, has been equally emphatic in support of the back-pass rule passed by the GAA's annual Congress over the weekend.

But Mickey Harte of Tyrone and Meath boss Andy McEntee have delivered far more jaundiced views on Gaelic football's latest rule change.

And the reaction of managers promises to turn even more animated following confirmation that Central Council has decided to bring the new back pass 'fatwa' into force for this year's championship.

It won't be applied for the remainder of the Allianz Football League, including the finals, but otherwise will extend to all levels of the game once the month-long post-Congress clearing period has elapsed.

The motion, originally proposed by the Raheens club in Kildare, received 62pc backing from delegates on Friday night, squeezing narrowly above the 60pc threshold required on a vote of 154-93.

There was little or no discussion in advance of Congress, with other proposals such as the doomed black card for hurling dominating the debate. Nor was there any contribution from the floor on Friday night, apart from the actual proposers of the motion.

But Farrell has voiced support for the idea, even though it will encourage opponents to press high and so increase the trend towards longer kickouts, potentially impacting on Dublin's capacity to retain possession via short restarts.

"I actually think that's a good rule change," the Dublin manager said. "It's squeezing the thing up. Because you can see out there in situations where teams want to run down the clock, they've got their advantage and the use of the goalkeeper becomes quite apparent in that way. It just makes it more interesting."

Farrell had only heard of the rule change on Saturday evening and was surprised by the development.

"Normally they like to try these things out, so I'm not sure what the motivation for it is. Is it a knee-jerk to something?

"But I think, on face value, I wouldn't be opposed to it."

The Dublin boss argued that it would have "made an awful lot of sense" to introduce the change for the remainder of the league, but this wouldn't have been allowed under rule.


By contrast, Joyce would have preferred if the authorities held fire until next year, but he's still "delighted" by the change in substance.

"Brilliant. Great news," he declared. "Genuinely, yeah. I'm telling our lads since I came in, no back-passing. So that's another they're not allowed to do, it's great."

However, the Galway manager added: "I would feel you can't be tampering with rules mid-season. We're training for one set of rules already, so I think it needs to be left until next year's championship or next year's league.

"It's very hard to introduce a new rule during the season. I hope it's left until next year but delighted it's in."

McEntee, who has already railed against refereeing decisions after a swathe of Meath defeats this spring, was far less convinced.

"My thoughts are that you'd be better off implementing the rules we do have, instead of introducing more rules," he maintained.

"I think if we'd got a consistent implementation of the existing rules, everybody would be a little bit happier. Is there another sport in the world that keeps bringing in new rules like this?"

Harte was even more dismissive.

"Ach, sure it's time for another rule change, isn't it? The referees are getting used to the ones that are there, so give them a couple more," was the Tyrone manager's sardonic response.

"It may incentivise teams to press," he added, "but I don't know what the criteria was for the people who brought it in, what they had in mind. Everything like that, players adjust and do whatever's required to live with the rule.

"There's no point me talking about the people who make rules because they make them anyway, and as many as they want.

"They don't always consult with the people on the ground over whether these are sensible rules or not - that's a fact," Harte concluded.