Still in the dark about rules
THERE’S that old joke about pregnancy... either you are or you aren’t pregnant. There’s no such thing as being kinda pregnant or half pregnant. Unless, that is, you’re the Gaelic Athletic Association.
Right now the GAA is kinda, sorta, maybe, half pregnant. We either will or, just as easily, won’t have new rules in place ahead of the National Football League, which gets underway at the end of the month.
In a sop to vocal critics – led by the Gaelic Players Association – of the new playing rules the GAA agreed to a review of the new rules after the bulk of the pre-season tournaments and before the League got underway. As a punt in a crisis you could see the merit of the decision.
It allowed Croke Park to get over the immediate impasse, but it has resulted in the bizarre situation whereby managers are preparing their teams for the National League – for a majority of counties probably their most important competition – and with less than three weeks to go they’re still unsure what the rules are going to be.
The first game of the 2019 league will be played on Saturday evening, January 26 and the Central Council meeting to decide upon the new rules will take place just seven days beforehand on January, 19. It’s a hell of a strange way to run such an important competition.
It has also – in our view – done a disservice to and undermined the experiment of this suite of new rules in a pretty fundamental way.
When you’ve got managers saying openly – Donegal’s Declan Bonner (pictured) for instance – that they don’t expect the hand-pass rule to survive the chop, you’ve got to wonder whether or not what we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks has been a fair representation of the rule’s application. If Bonner isn’t training his players in the new rule – as he says he’s not – can we be certain that it’s such a busted flush? Or is it a busted flush because, from the off, people like Bonner have refused to take it seriously? Probably Bonner is right. Probably the rule was unworkable and probably it won’t survive January 19, but it deserved a more considered assessment, not this shoddy, sloppy and flawed process.