Clare senior football manager Colm Collins is hitting out at the new rules being trialled for Gaelic football.
It comes as Clare prepare to get their 2019 season underway against Waterford in the McGrath Cup on Sunday in what will be their first time playing in a competitive fixture under the new rules.
Hand-passes are limited to a maximum of three while an attacking mark and modified side-line kick are all among the changes which Collins has seen in practice in recent challenge games and has not been impressed with.
“We have played games against Limerick and UL and the main focus of those games was trying to familiarise ourselves with the new rules. To be brutally honest, I don’t think any of them have improved the game in any shape of form, outside of the black card changes. I think that’s a good rule but I see no merit in any of the rest of them. I don’t think it’s correct to potentially have a situation where you play the National League under one set of rules and then face into the championship under a different set. I would be very surprised if these rules survive. In practice what has happened is they have made very little difference. If anything, it has made the game more negative and it’s rubbish to think otherwise. You can now get bodies behind the ball safe in the knowledge that after a third hand-pass is given, the opposition have to kick the ball. I think there are other areas we could be focusing in on besides this. The question you have to ask is have these rules made the game better and the answer to that is no” he said.
On the field, its been a positive start to the season for the squad with a number of new faces seeing action in recent challenge wins over Limerick and UL. Cormac Murray (St Joseph’s Miltown), Dale Masterson (St Breckan’s), Danny Griffin (Eire Óg), Niall Ellis (Shannon Gaels), Jayme O’Sullivan (Wolfe Tones), Gearoid Cahill (Corofin) and Dermot Coughlan (Kilmurry Ibrickane) are among some of the new additions to the panel while the likes of Dean Ryan and Davy O’Halloran have returned having spent time away from the set-up.
Collins is confident that there is a real sense that they are building strength in depth ahead of the beginning of the National League against Donegal on January 27th.
He said: “Time will tell how well the young lads develop but we are very happy with the squad we have at the moment. The younger fellas have done really well, they’ve been working very hard but the true test will come when they get into the cut and thrust of the National Football League. It’s been a positive start for them though and they’re showing that they belong at inter-county level up to now so hopefully that progression continues. Their attitude is very good and we are very happy with them at the moment.
Clare are set to be without one of their key men for the start of the League campaign as Miltown’s Eoin Cleary is recovering from surgery on a hand injury. While it’s an obvious blow, Collins insists it was one they were ready for.
“We were well prepared for Eoin’s injury, it wasn’t a bolt out of the blue. Once we knew that he needed the surgery on the broken bone, we knew what was coming. They had a prolonged run in the club championship but we knew that he had to get it operated on as soon as that ended. A player of his caliber is a loss to any team but we have been preparing for it so hopefully that will lessen the impact” said Collins.