Standing Rules Committee chairman Jarlath Burns has called for cool heads as the debate on the state of Gaelic football gathers momentum following Dublin and Derry’s awful encounter at Croke Park on Saturday.
The Allianz League game recorded just five points in a dour first half as Derry defended in numbers, restricting Dublin to long-range efforts, which mostly failed to hit their target.
And Burns, who is one of the people assigned to attempt to improve the game as a spectacle, was at the game on Saturday night and was similarly disillusioned, resorting to Twitter where he declared that he was seeing “the death of Gaelic football”.
The former Armagh midfielder has sympathy for the managers and was quick to absolve the Derry manager Brian McIver, knowing that he is judged more on results than performances.
“You don’t condemn Brian McIver at all,” Burns told RTÉ Sport.
“Managers are there to win games. He’s looking at his team and he realises the next match that he is going to have is the seventh of June in the Championship at home to Down.
“His team is slightly demoralised and he didn’t want to go to Croke Park and get another hammering like they did last year.
“But it’s not up to the managers, it’s up to ourselves and it’s up to the Association to try to protect the skills of the game and the integrity of the game and that’s what our Standing Committee on playing Rules is going to be doing.
Derry v Dublin tonight at Croke Park. The death of Gaelic football.— Jarlath Burns (@jburns834) March 28, 2015
“We know we have a fairly complex job ahead of us if we are going to change this trend that exists in Gaelic Games at the moment.
“I would just ask for cool heads on this from people. I feel that two years ago we had a chance to move away from this when Dublin won a fantastic All-Ireland playing expansive, free-flowing football.
"But then Donegal brought [defensive football] to a new level last year when they beat Dublin in the semi-final using those tactics.
“We all know what the problem is but trying to solve it is going to be a very difficult task without making radical changes, and nobody wants to do that.”
Burns admits that it was a big statement to say that it was the death of Gaelic football.
He said: “I felt very strongly about it. Believe it or not, I got up on Saturday morning and watched it again just to see if I had been in a bad mood, as I had just come back from Armagh and I had seen a very dull game there as well.
“I counted hand passes and I looked at the game and replayed it. One of the things that we have to try to preserve is the skills of Gaelic football, a high catch, a brilliant score, a block. People are saying we are trying to get rid of the art of defending but we’re not.”