Eugene McGee, chairman of the Football Review Committee, has explained the reasoning behind some of the proposals presented by the committee following an extensive review of the game.
McGee, speaking to Seán O’Rourke on the News at One on RTÉ Radio 1, clarified the factors the committee examined before finalising their recommendations.
“There has been a growing tendency in Gaelic Football for players to create dissent. For instance holding onto the ball when they concede a free so their teammates can regroup instead of giving the ball back quickly. That is typical of dissent.”
“(The penalty) used to be 13 metres for that, but now the ball will be brought forward 30 metres which is a very different commodity altogether.
That would apply also to players who throw the ball away, players who verbally attack an opponent or referee and any of those small misdemeanours that are unsightly and regarded as cynical.”
Yellow cards and mandatory substitution
“What the FRC is proposing is that you are sent off for a yellow card but you can be replaced. That can happen up to three times in a game and, after that, if a fourth player is sent off there would be no substitution.”
“This is an attempt to delineate between accidental and deliberate fouls. If it’s an accidental foul, which happens quiet often, than it is just a free and not a yellow card.
"There is a much harder line being taken against deliberate fouls because there are too many deliberate fouls in the game and this is an attempt to curb that.”
“This is a small attempt to make sure that the fundamental skill of high catching will remain. The mark is only for kick-outs, but it will allow the person inside the 45 who wins a kick-out to take the Australian type mark. He can play on as if nothing happened if he wishes or if he calls the mark everyone has to go back 13m and he has a chance to have a proper kick, or perhaps even go for a score.”
Picking up the ball
“Of all the things we discussed, and we had over 4,000 people in touch with us, this was the closest one. The pick-up is a very unusual skill in gaelic football.
"That skill is remaining as it is but the addition is that if a player wishes to pick the ball off the ground with the hand than he can do so. The players now have the option.”
“At the moment you are supposed to be able to only score a point by fisting the ball, but that has had its day because nobody was obeying it, including the referees. It was decided to make it legal that you can handpass the ball over the bar, but not under the bar as Kerry used to do in the 1970s!”
“We decided against introducing awarding two points for long distance scores because a new line or arc would have to be added to the field.
"One of the ramifications could have been that you would get even more players back in defence which would nearly eliminate goals altogether.”
“This year it is expected that it would be in every county ground. They all have the electronic scoreboards so it should not be a problem. It won’t make that much of a difference. It’s probably a bit overrated with the public, but at least they will be able to listen for the hooter and they’ll know exactly when the game is over.”
Duration of adult games
“Club games up to now have been 60 minutes and we are changing that to 70 minutes. With the superior fitness levels at all levels of Gaelic Football now we fell it’s only fair to have the same at county and club. It’s also better value for money for spectators.”
“We have refined the tackle and called it a skill, which it is, and we have been very specific about what you can and cannot do. There will be no room for error.”
“You cannot hit a man a wallop in a tackle. The tackle in Gaelic Football down the centuries meant how hard can you hit a fellah, or take the head off him. We have tried to refine it into a skill. It is a skill because you can shadow a man and make him do bad things and not let him pass the ball.”
“We are putting severe penalties on players who rush in with their knees, elbows or fists. All that stuff has to stop.”
“For blatantly breaking the rules it will be one yellow card and you’re gone. It’s pretty draconian.”
“For players who get serial yellow cards, say three yellow cards in a two month period, there is a two match suspension for that. A lot of people had complained that players could get yellow cards all the time and never really suffer a major penalty so that is going to be changed.”
“Also, in the course of a match, if a team have three yellow cards by three different players and they are substituted, than the next one, if there is one, cannot be substituted.”
“We have done a lot of work on referees, who are very much an afterthought of many people in the GAA. It should not be that way, and is not that way in other sports.
"We are trying to change that and even a small thing like asking referees to go into the dressing room before the games and introduce themselves is a start.”
“There is a great degree of antipathy towards refereeing in all aspects of gaelic football and we want to try and eliminate that.”
“We also want the referees to enforce the rules, against the top players especially, so that they will understand that the referee is the boss and he will gain respect.”