Meath legend Seán Boylan wants cynical play punished with four-point penalty

Playing rules committee member Seán Boylan wants cynical play punished in real time on the field of play.

Boylan is part of the Jarlath Burns-chaired group, which recommended a number of measures to Central Council including the mark and solo free in Gaelic football as well as the recognition of substitutions as official stoppages. It is the Meath legend’s contention the black card, while it has helped “an awful lot”, has not done enough to curb cynical play: “Why bring it in if it’s not going to have meaning?” he asked.

Punishing cynical fouls in the form of penalties is something he suggests. “I put it to you this way: say somebody pulls a player down and there’s a minute to go. For doing that, instead of a black card or a yellow card there’s a penalty but that penalty would be four points and not three points.”

“Those are things I would love to see happening. In other words, you would be taking the decisions on the field of play and not in a boardroom. I would just love to see us getting to that stage.

“Are you talking about rewriting (rules) to bring clarity? When you see lots of things being sorted out (in a boardroom) that’s not the spirit of where we come from or what it’s about. That’s no disrespect to people involved in that profession but this is a game.”

The mark beyond the 45 metre line, as seen in International Rules, has also been recommended although it won’t be trialled as planned in the Sigerson Cup.

“I miss the physical contact in the air,” remarked Boylan. “It’s such a huge part of the culture of the game and it is a physical contact sport and that’s why people go to see that.” According to the four-time All-Ireland winning manager, the solo free, which allows the player to tap the ball to himself to recommence play, is aimed at trying to help teams break down mass defences.

Debate is still ongoing about the amount of stoppage time that should be allocated for each sub – 30 seconds per substitute has been suggested but in the event of each team making six separate second-half substitutes there would be six minutes of additional time excluding all other stoppages. Boylan explains the logic behind the idea: “Human nature is human nature – ‘Oh, get a sub in there, it will stop the game.’

“Look, it’s worth a try. Because the things that are discussed an awful lot, and yet nothing seems to get done about it.”


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