Jim McGuinness: Dublin likely to be most affected by football’s experimental rules

JIM MCGUINNESS BELIEVES that Gaelic football’s experimental rules will affect All-Ireland champions Dublin more than any other side if they remain in place for the Allianz leagues. 

The controversial rules have been trialled throughout this month’s pre-season competitions, and will be reviewed by the GAA’s Ard Comhairle on 19 January to determine whether they will remain in place for the league. 

The handpass rule – whereby the ball must be kicked after a team completes three consecutive handpasses – has cut the most ice, with myriad critics arguing it does nothing to eradicate the deep, blanket defences that have become characteristic of the modern game. 

Speaking to The42, McGuinness accentuated their potential impact on Dublin’s style of play. 

“Those rules are different for every single team in the country as you have a different set of players with different skill-sets”.

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I think that the team that could be most impacted by those rules will potentially be Dublin. They have morphed into a team that are very conscientious on the ball: they want to keep the ball and keep the ball to wait for you to jump and press and when you do that, space opens up behind you and then they’ll make an incision with a runner ahead of the ball.

“That very conscientious, possession-based football that they have – the handpass rule won’t suit them”. 

McGuinness also foresees Dublin being hit by the proposed kickout rule, whereby restarts must be taken from the 20-metre line and pass the ’45.

“Their biggest asset over the last ten years has been Stephen Cluxton. They can beat you on the short kick-out every single time. And if the short’s not on, they can kick it a medium length, and if you push right up there is space in behind and they will knock it over the top of you.

“Now [under the proposed new rule] the short and medium-length kicks are gone. A huge part of their kick strategy – two-thirds of it – will potentially be gone.

“Cluxton is a master of what others call the dangerous kickout into his own 45 – they aren’t dangerous in his head as it is so easy for him. Taking that away pushes him into the category of all other goalkeepers.

If we had Neil Gallagher and Rory Kavanagh in the middle of the field five or six years ago, and you had to kick the ball out between the two 45s, we’d have been delighted with that. They are big, strong strapping lads who love to catch ball.

“A lot of teams because of short kick outs, like Tyrone for example, they don’t recruit big men. They don’t need big men”. 

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