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GAA Football

Football 'dying in front of us' claims former Donegal star Manus Boyle

Kilcar were understandably delighted by their Donegal SFC Final triumph against Naomh Conaill but former Tir Chonaill star Manus Boyle has slammed the poor quality of football
Gerry McLaughlin

FORMER Donegal footballer Manus Boyle believes the game is ‘‘dying in front of us”.

The 1992 All-Ireland winner says that some radical changes need to be made after watching last Sunday’s snooze-fest of a county final between Kilcar and Naomh Conaill. He added that while the entire country was praising Dublin, nobody was talking about “how bad” the
All-Ireland Championship was.

And he called on GAA bosses to change the rules and reward attacking play, just like soccer and basketball bosses had done for their codes.

“I am 51 years old and I could have played quite comfortably in that match as it was just so pedestrian,” claimed Boyle.

“And if would be very unfair to unduly blame either Kilcar or Naomh Conaill as they are just playing the game the way it has evolved.

“Kilcar are worthy champions and well deserved too, but we need to do something to fix our game and quickly,’ he said.

He added that the whole country was falling over itself to praise Dublin.

“They are a great team but nobody is telling us about how bad the
All-Ireland Championships were this year.

“I think the game is dying in front of us and we need to take some radical steps to save it.”

So how could that be achieved?

“Well, if you look at soccer they decided to reward attacking football by giving three points for a win and basketball awarded more points if scores were taken from well out the court.

“We must reward attacking play in the GAA and that is just not happening at the minute.

“I think if you gave two points for any score kicked from outside the 21 and the ‘D’ you would get a lot more longer range efforts.

“Another possibility is to reduce team numbers to 13-a-side and that way you would have more room on the pitch at a time when a strong emphasis is being placed on closing down space.’’

Boyle admits he is not a fan of reducing the number of hand-passes in an effort to encourage more kicking.

“That was tried in 1992 after we won the All-Ireland and was not much of a success,” he said.

“If you reduce the number of hand-passes it is just another layer of pressure on the referee. The referee is already under enough pressure with the black card.

“And it is an excuse for pundits and commentators to have a go at the referee who is already an easy target.”

Reflecting on the match itself, Boyle wondered why Naomh Conaill did not pump high balls into the Kilcar square, even when they had Leo McLoone and Ciaran Thompson in at different times.

“Glenswilly had Michael Murphy in and around their square quite a bit last year and Kilcar are not the biggest team,” he said.

“But Glenties did not play in any long balls, which made it easier for Kilcar.

“On the other hand, Glenties have already taken three county titles with a tight defence and counter-attacking at pace so I suppose it is hard to blame them too much.

“They knew that if they came out of defence then Kilcar’s sheer pace could cause them big problems.”

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