Limerick enter the Munster Championship draw this evening
The GAA have this week announced plans to trial new rules for Gaelic football.
The new rules, five in total, are planned to help the game become more open and in turn more attractive to spectators and TV audiences alike.
There are five rule changes proposed.
Proposal (1)Handpass - To introduce a restriction of three consecutive passes of the ball with the fist or open hand by players of the team in possession.
Proposal (2)Sideline Kick: That the ball shall be played in a forward direction from the kick.
Proposal (3)The Mark – To extend the application of the Mark to the clean catching of the ball on or inside the 20m line from a kick delivered on or beyond the 45m line without it touching the ground.
Proposal (4)Sin-Bin – The Penalty on the day for a Black Card Infraction or two Yellow Card Infractions - an ordering off for ten minutes in a Sin Bin.
Proposal (5) Kick-Out /Zoning For a kick-out, two players only from each team shall be positioned between the two 45m lines. The goalkeeper and a maximum of six players from each team shall be behind the respective 45m lines, until the ball is kicked.
Any sporting body that looks inwardly and is admitting that it needs to change deserves to be applauded.
However, I believe the GAA have missed a trick here. The reason for all these rule changes is to open up the game and make the game have more of a ‘flow’ to make it more high scoring.
The real issue, is that Gaelic Football has become more defensive and more ‘negative’ due to the mismatches that take place on a regular basis. The only way to make football better is to allow teams play against sides of equal standing and quality in the game.
Every single county in the country has tiered club championships. It is designed for sides to make their way through the ranks and if they are good enough, the will move up.
The National Football league is the same. Teams in Divsion four know that they can't win Division One and they seem happy about it.
Why not tier the All Ireland senior football championship then. Why has this change not been made? Is it purely for tradition or is there something else to it. As we know from Galway playing hurling in Leinster, Kerry hurling in Leinster and the back door system, tradition matters less than we all think it does to the top brass.
It just seems to make so much sense.
If the GAA were to allow Division 1 and 2 teams enter the All Ireland series, it would make the bottom two tiers of the league more competitive than they already are. Promotion into Division 2 would see you have a chance to play for Sam Maguire.
Should you not make it into Division 2, then you could still pick up some silverware by winning the All Ireland ‘B’ championship or the All Ireland Shield, if the term ‘B’ annoys you.
The fact of the matter is this. If football sides of equal quality play eachother, more often, we are likely to get better games of football.
Should that system work, a county like Limerick would have a chance to win an All Ireland shield, while also having the target of reaching, someday, the All Ireland series proper. It would be a figurative carrot in front of the donkey approach, but one which I am sure many county boards, including our own in Limerick, would like to enter into.
So, instead of looking at changing the laws on the pitch, maybe look at changing the structures as a whole. What is the worst that could happen? People would become disillusioned with the game? Wake up GAA HQ, they already have.