Duffy: GAA could not have done more to explain new rules

GAA Director General Paraic Duffy has said that his organisation could not have done much more to explain the rules regarding the handpass, ahead of last Sunday's major day of football Championship action across three provinces.

GAA Director General Paraic Duffy has said that his organisation could not have done much more to explain the rules regarding the handpass, ahead of last Sunday's major day of football Championship action across three provinces.

"The rule was changed at Congress four weeks ago. Every county, every club in the country were written to directly. Leading officials were written to as well. Last week we sent six of our elite inter-county referees to meet the six teams who were playing, " Duffy said at yesterday's 'Ulster Bank GAA rivals' campaign launch at Croke Park.

"The rule is as simple as can be, you can strike the ball with the closed fist, or you strike the ball with the underhand, provided there is a striking action.

"We sent six referees to the six teams last week, to answer any queries that they had. I can't see why there should have been a problem on Sunday."

Duffy also outlined that national match officials co-ordinator Patrick Doherty held a meeting with those involved in RTE's GAA coverage.

"Pat Doherty, our national match officials manager went down to RTE and met with all of the commentators, broadcasters and analysts to explain the rule.

"Every query they had was answered, from those who were there. So I don't see what the problem should be."

Senior RTE Sport sources confirmed last night that a briefing meeting took place last Wednesday in the RTE Sport Department at Donnybrook, which also covered the subject of pitch invasions.

It had been informally arranged that RTE News conduct an interview with Doherty about the rules for Friday's Six-One programme, but this failed to materialise due to logistical reasons.

However, last night RTE News carried a report on the rules including an interview with Duffy, from yesterday's press conference at Croke Park.

"In terms of the analysts, as I said Pat Doherty went out and visited RTE last week, and met all of those who were broadcasting games and those who would be analysing games. I'm not sure if everybody was there, but the service was offered and it was taken up. The briefing took place," he said.

Duffy also revealed that briefings took place for referees in the past fortnight, at Croke Park.

"The referees were here last weekend for two days - Friday and Saturday; having had a previous seminar two weeks before that, after Congress. The 18 football referees, who will referee this year's football games were here on Friday and Saturday.

"All issues regarding handpassing and other changes were addressed, and the referees were absolutely clear about what the rule involves. To make sure the teams were clear, it was agreed that we would ask six of those 18 to visit the six teams, one each in the week before Sunday's games.

"That was done, and to put it mildly I'm surprised that there should be problems in terms of what the rule was.

"As I've said many times, these changes are very minor changes. The handpass rule is very straightforward - you either strike the ball with the fist, or you strike the ball with an open hand, using an underhand action.

"That's straightforward, there's nothing complicated and it doesn't require hours and hours of analysis or interpretation or instruction. Those were the changes, and I think in terms of if they didn't get out there, I don't see how we could have done much more."

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