Rules review puzzles Jim

All-Ireland-winning Donegal manager Jim McGuinness has questioned the reasoning behind the setting up of the Football Review Committee (FRC).

Rules review puzzles Jim

McGuinness is concerned the independent Eugene McGee-led group was established by the GAA in reaction to the county’s All-Ireland semi-final clash with Dublin last year.

The low-scoring game that saw just 14 points recorded was lambasted as one of the ugliest spectacles in recent years.

McGuinness explained that he set out Donegal’s ultra-defensive stall because they were not at that stage prepared to take Dublin on man-to-man.

He admitted he was shocked to hear from one of the FRC’s members Declan Darcy that the review was commissioned as a result of the game.

“There was a lot made of last year. I was listening to the radio one day coming home from one of the qualifiers and I think it was [former Dublin and Leitrim footballer] Declan Darcy on the radio and he made the comment that the review was set up on foot of our game with Dublin last year.

“It was a wee bit staggering, to be honest with you, that a whole consultation process at national level could be based on one game.

“We had a game plan, we felt we were early in our development and we weren’t ready to take Dublin on.

“We went out with a certain game plan to try to counteract that. We felt it was the best way of winning the match.

“To get a review set up on foot of it is a wee bit over the top being honest.”

McGuinness doesn’t believe there is much wrong with the game of Gaelic football but will respond to any FRC recommended changes that are endorsed by the GAA.

“Whatever the rule changes are, we’re coaches and we’ll coach to them.

“We’ll just coach to the rules and that’s what we did last year regardless of all the criticism. We tried to get the best out of our players. If there are changes, we’ll adapt to them.”

McGuinness is all for alterations being made to the structure of the All-Ireland championship but maintains that the provincial system should be retained.

The Glenties man would prefer to see counties rewarded for their provincial standings in an open draw All-Ireland series as well as the provincial competitions put back to the spring months.

He believes teams in Munster and Connacht get off lightly compared to sides in Leinster and Ulster.

“I think if the provincial championships were set up in a way thatcreated a situation where the winners were seeded out of the provincial championship instead of the national leagues, in February, March or April, that they could be seeded into the All-Ireland series and an open draw then.

“It’s a different ball game coming out of Munster or Connacht in contrast to the preliminary round in Ulster. There’s no question about that.

“You’ve four tough games in Ulster and Leinster, and there’s maybe some handy games in those other provinces. You can slip into a quarter-final fairly easily.”

McGuinness didn’t refer to any other counties in particular but pointed out that Donegal had it tougher than most, having had to start in the preliminary round for the second year running this season.

Mayo only had to win four games compared to Donegal’s six to reach the All-Ireland final while Cork made the semi-final having beaten Kerry, Clare and Kildare.

“You look at other teams and they’re planning their summer for July whereas we’re planning for May 20 (v Cavan),” stressed McGuinness.

“I think there could be things where the provincial championship is retained in all its glory but it could then add in to the All-Ireland series and the All-Ireland series could be opened up into a 34-team open championship.

“You’d have the likes of Kerry against Armagh, Dublin up to Fermanagh and all these kind of things. I think it’d be a far more honest and transparent championship.

“But I do love the Ulster championship, I wouldn’t want to see that relinquished. But I think there’s a place for both.”

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