Still in the dark about rules

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - SPORT -

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.

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