Darren Hughes blasts rule change proposals

By Declan Bogue

Monaghan’s Darren Hughes has labelled as “embarrassing”, some of the proposed changes to Gaelic football that the GAA’s Standing Committee on the Playing Rules have floated last week.

“It’s embarrassing for some of that rules committee that they went to print,” stated Hughes in the aftermath of captaining Scotstown to their fourth consecutive Monaghan SFC with a 1-13 to 0-13 win over Ballybay in Clones.

“There’s no logic to it at all. I don’t know if they even played the game. It was embarrassing to even read it. But for them to sit down and waste time, and to let that go to print…

The only one (advantage) that I could potentially see going is in the mark inside. And I had said that before.

Indeed, he suggested exactly that in the match-day programme.

However, none of the other proposed changes, which the Standing Committee are hoping to trial throughout October and possibly implement in time for the 2019 National League, met with Hughes’ approval.

That includes the sin-bin, with a player able to pick up two yellow cards before being ejected to the sin-bin for 10 minutes, and then indeed being able to pick up a third yellow card before he is taken out of the game.

“The sin-bin, I mean, we tried it before and it worked and then they got rid of it for no reason,” he continued, referring to previous attempts to introduce the process in 2005 and 2008 with no lasting impact. Perhaps the most controversial and wide-reaching proposal concerns the kickout, where both teams are only permitted two midfielders inside the 45m lines at a restart.

How that rule can fall down was strikingly apparent in Clones on Sunday. Scotstown goalkeeper Rory Beggan is in contention for an All-Star and has one of the best strikes of a football in the game - scoring two frees in Sunday’s decider - but at one stage during the second half a kickout of his caught in a strong breeze and didn’t make it past the 45m line. The same thing happened Ballybay goalkeeper Brian McCabe when he too was kicking into the wind.

I read the first couple of lines about the kickout and everybody having to stay outside the lines of the 45m lines but I don’t understand it at all,” said Hughes.

His manager, Kieran Donnelly added, “I admire them trying something different, even to the extent of trying to encourage high catching, but with only four men in that zone, of course the keeper’s going to hit it into pockets, never mind if there’s a breeze.

“Personally, I don’t think it has to change. If a team feels they’re good enough they can be more responsive in their style. If you feel you have a chance, you will be more expansive and hold a higher line on the pitch.”

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