No change to 'simple' handpass law insists Duffy
THE GAA are refusing point-blank to back down on their handpass rule change, despite the furore and controversy it caused across the first full weekend of championship action.
Players and managers alike have predicted that it will cause greater problems when the championship hits top pace but GAA director-general Páraic Duffy stood firmly behind the change yesterday.
"It is a very straightforward rule, was passed by a motion at Congress and there will be absolutely no rowing back on it," Duffy said.
"Every county and every club in the country was written to directly, leading officials were written to and last week we sent six of our elite inter-county referees to meet the six teams who were playing last weekend," he said.
"The rule is as simple as can be but if (inter-county) teams want referees to go and explain it we will be quite happy to keep doing that until the penny drops."
Duffy said he was satisfied that the GAA had done "everything within our power" to brief players, managers, media and the public on their rule changes, including sending a representative to RTE last week to brief the national broadcaster and its analysts.
But, clearly stung by the backlash that was loudly articulated during RTE's live coverage last weekend, he accused managers and television of exaggerating the problem, saying: "If TV analysts and managers make a fuss about it, then it takes on a whole other life and profile."
Players were only allowed pass with a closed fist during this year's National League. That experiment was subsequently thrown out at Congress but another motion was passed which allows players to now use a fist pass or an open hand but, in a significant change, if they opt for the latter they must use 'a definite underhand striking action.'
Anything passed at Congress comes into play four weeks later and the timing of this change has come in for heavy criticism as players have only had five weeks to adapt to it ahead of the biggest competition of their year.
Duffy conceded yesterday that the timing was not ideal and that the GAA will look at this and other aspects of rule changes in future but he remained firm that this is a relatively simple rule change that should not be problematic.
"The impression I got from some people was that we're always changing the rules but we only change the playing rules once every five years," Duffy said.
"I would prefer if we weren't introducing rule changes in the first weekend of the championship, that's a valid point," he admitted. "But in this case, it (handpass rule) was not the most difficult change to understand and it did not come from Croke Park but from the floor of Congress."