Football

Constant tinkering with rules not the answer to improving Gaelic football says ex-Donegal captain Michael Murphy

ON THE BALL Michael Murphy pictured yesterday ahead of this Sunday’s Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football Championship final between Derry and Monaghan at the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds, Armagh
ON THE BALL Michael Murphy pictured yesterday ahead of this Sunday’s Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football Championship final between Derry and Monaghan at the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds, Armagh ON THE BALL Michael Murphy pictured yesterday ahead of this Sunday’s Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football Championship final between Derry and Monaghan at the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds, Armagh

IS Gaelic Football no longer entertaining? Former Donegal skipper Michael Murphy isn’t quite sure but feels that constant tinkering with the rulebook isn’t the answer to improving the game.

The five-time Allstar retired from inter-county duty last year and while trying to adapt to his new punditry position, Murphy has had a wider view of the game as a spectacle.

It took the Glenswilly man a while to replace his player mindset with a more open approach and admits that some games “a struggle to watch.”

“I felt at the start of the year when I was watching games in the National League and even in the early rounds of Ulster, I was still probably analysing with my foot still in a dressing-room,” said Donegal’s 2012 All-Ireland winning captain.

“I was absolutely enthralled by games other people were coming away from saying, ‘that was terrible.’ I was fascinated by the battle and where you were going to pick holes in an opposition.

“Then the question probably started to go around my head a bit more, is it actually good to watch, is it a good product? I’m probably starting to figure that question out a bit more, there are some games that are a struggle to watch.

“As regards a spectacle and energy and entertainment, they are a struggle, there’s no doubt about it. I am grappling with that one at the moment. There is probably a need for a look and a review to be done on it.”

A new rule here or there won’t work, and instead, Murphy feels the GAA should wipe the slate clean, focus on what makes the games more entertaining and take it from there.

“I think the worst thing we could probably do is making any further bit-part changes to the game,” added Murphy. “I think we need to figure out what is entertaining.

“Is kicking and catching entertaining? Really figure that question out, analyse it. Are one v ones entertaining? Do we want that?

“Once we figure out the answers to what is entertaining, then make up rules that will ensure these things happen, rather than just coming out with a rule change every December and hoping it makes the game more entertaining.

“Go around, ask, figure out from crowds, figure out from coaches. Coaches and players are probably the two worst cohorts to ask, and I realise that from being a player. You don’t want change.

“When you’re a player, all you want is to know this is the way you have to train in October, November, December, you don’t want rule changes coming in that’s going to mess up with your preparation for next week’s games so probably players and coaches are the worst ones to ask.

“But, again, no matter what rule changes come in, the one thing players and coaches will do is they’ll try and adapt to it, and they’ll try and figure things out so, listen, I think there definitely is a review to find out if this game is entertaining. I know it’s been done in other sports.

“I watch a lot of AFL and I know in recent years it’s been done in AFL where they’ve reviewed it and they’ve made three of four big changes to their game and it’s resulted in more scores, it’s resulted in more attacks, it’s resulted in less slow play and it’s something that maybe we need to look at.”