Saturday 20 January 2018

Gilroy calls for rules 'tidy-up'

Pat Gilroy. Photo: Sportsfile
Pat Gilroy. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Dublin manager Pat Gilroy has urged the GAA's standing playing rules committee to address the disparity between the theory and practice of playing rules in gaelic football.

Gilroy believes there is a big opportunity to "tidy up" what he feels is a disconnect between what it says in the rule book and what is actually applied at the highest level of the game.

As he nears a decision on taking Dublin forward into 2012, the All-Ireland winning manager feels work has to be done on the rule book, particularly in relation to 'contact', to avoid inconsistency between various strands of the game.

He has also called for exploration of an interchange substitute policy because of the ever-increasing levels of intensity that football now requires.

"I would like to see interchange introduced, where players could roll on and roll off -- to a certain limit, of course," he said.

"I think the way the game has gone and continues to evolve, the role of the substitute -- the need for fresh legs -- has grown in importance. Obviously, there would be a need to reduce the numbers on match-day squads, but that would be acceptable to my mind."

International rules features interchange substitutes, but it has been a skill, with regard to getting the timing right, that successive Irish teams have yet to really master.

Gilroy admits it might take a significant leap in thinking to bring about such change, but is adamant that it is within the remit of the current committee to resolve confusion over the tackle.

"If you were to apply the strict letter of the law here, then the only contact is with the shoulder or by slapping a ball away from an opponent with the hand. But that's not the reality, especially at the highest level," he said.

"If you were to apply it strictly then there would be little or no contact in the game and that's not what spectators or the playing community want.

"The top five or six referees will use common sense in how they apply the rules.


"They allow contact beyond what is defined in the rules, because if they didn't, the number of frees would multiply.

"I see it in club games where matches are being refereed strictly by the rules and it's farcical the lack of contact that's allowed.

"It makes it difficult for club players to make the jump up to inter-county level. It's quite a shock to them," Gilroy added.

"You'll see it in O'Byrne Cup games, too, and at certain levels of the league. The letter of the law is strictly adhered to and contact is minimal.

"But the rules should allow for the contact that is already happening and I feel it doesn't. For instance, how do you stop a player running straight at you? You hold him up and then try to dispossess with the hand. Holding a player up isn't technically in the rules, but it's allowed by most referees because it makes sense.

"We have a definition of a tackle in the rule book, but we need a much better one that reflects what is actually happening rather than what is allowed. And that's why this is an opportunity.

"There's not a lot wrong with our games and there are plenty of very good contests to watch," added Gilroy, who is also backing the abolition of the square ball and adopting the experiment that he felt worked so well in the 2010 NFL.

"But there are small things that can be tidied up that can help to promote more attacking football."

The optimism is high in Dublin that Gilroy will not vacate his position as Dublin manager after last month's All-Ireland triumph and confirmation is expected in the coming days.

Irish Independent

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