GPA national executive member Colm Begley doesn’t expect variations of the experimental rules to be enforced in the Allianz Leagues.
The 32-year-old, who confirmed he will play again for Laois this coming season, doesn’t envisage any tweaks to the new rules following a Central Council meeting in January. His belief is that they will either be put into practice in the spring or not at all.
Following a meeting between GAA president John Horan and GPA CEO Paul Flynn on Wednesday, the GAA confirmed there will be an opportunity to review the hand-pass limit, the sin bin, the 20-metre kick-out, the forward sideline pass and the offensive mark at their January 19 meeting.
How the rules fare in the pre-season competitions will dictate how that meeting goes, believes Begley.
“We can’t just say, ‘throw them out’. Maybe ideally next year they would have been put in place in the league if they went well (in the pre-season).
“If they’re reviewed and they go well, players will probably adapt to them pretty well in decent competitions.
“If they review it and some of them don’t go well, then they’ll be pulled out. But I don’t think there’ll be tweaks to what is there now before the league. I think they’ll look at them, and if they’re not working or effective they won’t be involved in the league. That’s my understanding of it.”
The GPA’s major issue is with the limit of three hand-passes.
Begley insists all they were looking for was an opportunity to take stock of the changes before the league.
“The main points that Paul raised were that the GPA are totally behind the new rules being implemented and tried out to try to help and change the game. The players are behind that. But I think the major concern for members of the GPA was that these rules would be put into the league without review. Obviously, the league is a massive competition, probably the primary competition for a lot of players.
So the concern for our members was that these rules were going to be put into the league no matter what happened in pre-season.
“Our viewpoint was that the rules would be reviewed after the pre-season competitions. We have around 50 games in the pre-season competitions which will allow us an opportunity to look at the rules in action. And the GAA told us that on January 19 there will be a review for it. We’re happy enough with that.
“The GPA, the players aren’t against the new rules being put in place. These rules could be fantastic and if they are, then brilliant. But it’s only a month and a half to the league, and they’re only being introduced now. It’s very hard for players to come up to speed with these new rules and implement them properly.”
With 60% of GPA members now backing a second-tier championship, Begley, who is representing the players’ body on the All-Stars tour to Philadelphia, appreciates change is in the air but complimented the GAA’s decision to hold off on what format they will propose until January.
“There’s definitely more positivity towards looking at it but I don’t think we’re there yet in terms of how it’s going to be formatted. We’re still trying to change it, I know the GAA are looking at different ways and proposals.
“In fairness to them, they’ve realised it’s not something we can fast-track through. I would be in favour of it. Down the line that’s the way it’s going. How we format it, I’m not sure.
“It’s all about trying to get the same respect for whatever competition it is as what we get for the main one.
“It has to be thought about, how you’d market it, how you’d push it, what incentives would be for it. But I think players realise we’re not all on the same level.”