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Shields fears over square rule change

CORK full-back Michael Shields predicts trouble this summer after the decision of Congress to alter the square-ball rule.

A motion passed in Laois means that players can now be in the square before the ball comes in, except from a sideline ball or a free-kick.

And while it is hoped the new rule will make the game easier to officiate, Shields expects the change to pose a new challenge for referees.

"If I am being brutally honest with you, I preferred the rules the way they were," said the St Finbarr's man.

"It will be tough on the backs when the ball does come in. There are going to be real wrestling matches in the square to get the ball.

"It will bring about more goals and entertain the fans a bit more. It will make it more interesting. But the referees are going to find it harder when it does come in, because the full-back is going to be giving them a bit of lip as well."

The new ruling won't be in play for the Rebels' league final clash with Mayo, but it will take effect for the championship and Shields suggested that making the square slightly bigger could help match-day officials.

"I just think there is room for error the way it is at the moment. If it goes one way, it can end up in the back of the net, but if the square was bigger there would be less mistakes made and they could officiate it that bit easier."

Irish Independent