Time for debate, discussion and decisions.
The much awaited proposals that, hopefully, will go some way at least, to counteracting the negativity that has crept into Gaelic football over the past number of years, have been unveiled.
There are five areas, those given the responsibility to come up with proposals have concentrated on.
Five is a lot though and knowing how the GAA operates, slow to change and all that, it is highly unlikely that come the Football League in February, all five will be in operation. In fact it is fair to suggest that there is no way that all five will be taken on board. That's not saying that they all have their merits, they have, but some have definitely more merits than others.
The five proposals fall roughly into the category of
(1) The handpass; (2) The sideline kick; (3) The mark; (4) The sin bin and (5) The kick-out.
In summary the proposals involve
(1) curtailing the handpass; (2) sideline kicks to go forward only (with one exception); (3) extending the Mark; (4) using the sin bin for black card and second yellow card offences); and (5) for a kick-out only two players from each team allowed in the middle third (between the two 45s).
The plan now is to have a month's discussion, deliber-
ations, practice games and consultations with various stakeholders, including players, managers, Co Boards, referee bodies etc.
When the process is finalised at the end of October, the Football Standing Committee (FSC) set up to look into the rules, will then decide to alter, tweak, modify, add, withdraw, or whatever, before coming up with their final draft of proposed alterations.
If and when the proposed changes are approved by Coiste Bainistíochta (Management Committee) they will come into force for the Allianz Football League of 2019 but only on an experimental basis as playing rules in the Association can only be changed every five years and the next time that falls due is in fact in 2020, so no permanent change prior to that.
Have to say there are few aspects of this that causes some bother, the first being that the proposed rule changes will be 'tested' in the Allianz Football League; a League that has been sponsored by Allianz since 1992 and now finds itself being used as just a 'testing' competition.
Demeaning or what?
Another worrying feature is that certain counties could find themselves playing in league finals (under the proposed new rules); then just weeks later will be asked to line out in championship under the original rules; can't see that happening.
There is also the aspect of additional responsibilities for match officials, who are already under severe and growing pressure.
Apart for what they (match officials) are currently expected to cover add in the counting of hand passes, ensuring sideline kicks go forward; the proposal on the mark; keeping tabs on the time a player is in the sin bin while also ensuring that only two players from each team are in the middle third of the pitch for the kick out.
Refereeing is an area that is in need of being looked at; nearly as urgent as altering the playing rules.
Having said all that one thing is certain, standing still is not an option where Gaelic football is concerned.
But heaping more work on the shoulders of referees is hardly the way forward and while looking at referees was not in the remit of this committee, it cannot be ignored at the same time.
Maybe the use of a second official might ease the burden.
And that is before we take an in depth look at the proposed rule changes!
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