New ‘tap and go’ rule could abolish cynicism

GPA chief executive Dessie Farrell says there is too much room for skulduggery during stoppages for frees in Gaelic football.

The current Dublin minor manager also suggested there is a form of cynicism embedded in the senior game and last year’s All-Ireland semi-final between Dublin and Donegal was unacceptable as a spectacle.

As a member of the playing rules committee, Farrell has put forward the idea of a “tap and go” free, which he believes, in principle, can help eradicate the negativity from the infringing team.

“I think there is an understanding now that particularly around the breakdown when the free is given there’s too much room for skulduggery for want of a better word in terms of obstructing a player trying to take a quick free or slapping or throwing the ball away.

“Is moving the ball up 10 metres or whatever, it is severe enough punishment? I don’t think it is. If you made little changes around that it would speed up the game enormously.

“There would be more scoring chances and it would remove a lot of the handpasses that go on.

“If I try and stop you taking a quick free it allows two or three players to funnel back and the space behind is removed to kick into because there are loads of bodies there.”

Although it has been warmly received in a survey of players, Farrell is mindful it is still only a concept and all the stakeholders in the game must have a say in the trialling process.

He himself experimented with the free for 15 minutes when officiating a minor game earlier this year.

“It took the young lads a little bit of time to get up to speed with it but in the last five minutes you could see it working.”

Farrell acknowledges traditionalists like Mickey Harte who don’t want the game altered but disagrees with his viewpoint. He cites the Dublin v Donegal game last year as an example of how the game can be reduced as not only entertainment but as a sport.

“You have to respect Mickey’s opinion. He’s been around for a long time and seen things come and go.

“But you couldn’t look at too many All-Ireland semi-finals like the one last year. As it turns out, the final was a great spectacle but if there were another couple of games similar to that one [Dublin v Donegal], that’s not good for players, supporters or the game itself.”

Farrell said the GPA had no major issue with them having no representation on the newly-formed football review committee. After two counties recently experienced difficulties paying expenses to players, Farrell stated players are “very reasonable” in addressing issues.

He also confirmed New York will be the destination for the GAA-GPA Opel All-Star Awards trip for 2011 and ‘12 football winners.


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