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Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

'I don’t understand why people who don’t play the game, get to make the decisions'

Mickey Harte, Dessie Farrell and Niall Morgan offer contrasting views on the GAA’s new backpass rule.
Mar 3rd 2020, 6:00 AM 13,103 3

THE ONGOING EXASPERATION of Gaelic football county managers over the never-ending tinkering with playing rules has brought a withering response from Tyrone’s Mickey Harte.

Motion 6 on the Congress Clár at the weekend came from the Raheens club in Kildare, proposing that an outfield player may not play the ball back to a goalkeeper after receiving a kickout.

It was voted in at 9.36pm on Friday night just as the count for the new GAA President-Elect was being totted up and it scraped in with 62% of the vote, a margin of 60% required.

“Ach sure it’s time for another rule change, isn’t it? The referees are getting used to the ones that are there, so give them a couple more,” Harte said with tongue slightly in cheek.

“It may incentivise teams to press but I don’t know what the criteria was for the people who brought it in, what they had in mind. Everything like that, players adjust and do whatever’s required to live with the rule,” he added.

The new rule will be in effect in time for the beginning of the provincial Championships, just nine weeks away, without any trial period.

dessie-farrell-with-mickey-harte-after-the-game Dublin boss Dessie Farrell with Tyrone manager Mickey Harte after Saturday night's game. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“I actually think that’s a good rule change,” said Dublin manager Dessie Farrell.

“It’s squeezing the thing up. Because you can see out there in situations where teams want to run down the clock, they’ve got their advantage and the use of the goalkeeper becomes quite apparent in that way.

“It just makes it more interesting.”

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Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan, a player who routinely joins in attacks after playing a short give-and-go from a kickout, declared himself unimpressed with the development.

“For me, I don’t understand why people who don’t play the game, get to make the decisions on what players have to do,” said the Edendork man after nailing four frees and a man-of-the-match performance in their win over Dublin.

“I know the GPA have two delegates at a meeting representing the players and to me it doesn’t make sense.

“There are a group of men, maybe retired, who might not have played football to a decent level. They get to decide what the rules are for the current players?”

niall-morgan-celebrates Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan celebrates after their victory over Dublin. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

On Saturday night, Tyrone surrendered the Dublin kickout by flooding everyone in their own defence at times in the second half. The short kickout is an established tactic of many teams and they will now have to readjust ahead of championship football.

“We have to deal with all the rule changes as they come in,” said Morgan.

“We don’t get to decide the rule changes. It’s like anything in life, no matter what rule changes, you have to get on with the job and find a different way around it.”

He continued, “To me, goalkeeping has changed vastly in the last ten or twelve years, with Cluxton coming along, then myself, Rory (Beggan), Graham Brody, Shaun Patton as well. And we are all trying to make goalkeepers want to play.

“I don’t think they are going to be content in Croke Park until we are just lumping it out long between the midfielders. I think the next thing they are going to try to implement is the kickout has to pass the 45-metre line like in International Rules.”

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Declan Bogue

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