Westmeath's Ger Egan 'sorry for the referees' over rules experiment

Westmeath forward Ger Egan feels “sorry for the referees” attempting to enforce the experimental rules.

Among the six points he posted, Egan helped himself to one from an offensive mark in Sunday’s O’Byrne Cup victory over Kildare in The Downs and is not surprisingly in favour of the change along with the introduction of the sin bin.

However, the rationing of handpasses is his chief cause for concern — Westmeath were penalised for stringing together four handpasses on three occasions.

“The handpass is just awkward more than anything else,” says Egan.

“It’s nearly as awkward for the referee as it is for the players when you’re going down the middle of the pitch and you’re on your third handpass — what do you do? Do you kick it (back) over your head? You can see the idea behind it but there needs to be tweaking especially in the forwards.

“In fairness, you would feel sorry for the referees — they have so much to bloody think about. What’s black, what’s yellow, what’s red?”

Egan’s team-mate Ronan O’Toole also sent over two offensive marks to help beat Kildare and Tyrrellspass man Egan can see a future for that change.

“The mark is a good idea. It promotes kicking and forward movement and so on. But it’s hard to know if you work on them in training because you don’t know if they’re coming into the league. Free shots at goals should be going over the bar every time.”

As for the 10-minute sin-bin, Egan has yet to see it come into play but appreciates the logic behind it. “I think there has to be a more severe punishment where you’re off for 10 minutes instead of a black card where it’s just a straight swap.”

New manager Jack Cooney is unbeaten after three games but regardless of how Saturday’s semi-final against Longford goes Egan reports that the vibes are good following a dismal 2018 Championship.

“Jack has served his time to get this post and he’s a passionate Westmeath man.

“The lads are buying into it. Results obviously help but if we didn’t get them this week or last week I’d still say training is going very well. It’s a big transition period for Westmeath, there are a lot of new faces there and they’re bringing new energy.

“What happened last year happened last year and some years don’t work out for whatever reason but it’s just a fresh start, new players and these games are just about getting ready for the league. We could lose the first two games and say ‘where is the momentum from the O’Byrne Cup?’ but we just have to keep building and it’s nice to see things that we’re working on coming off in matches.”

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