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John Sugrue: Tinkering with football rules the fault of negative pundits

Kerry U20 manager John Sugrue believes negative pundits are partly responsible for the amount of unnecessary tinkering with the game of football at present.

The former Laois boss has said there was no need for the latest rule change — prohibiting a player from passing the ball back to his goalkeeper after receiving a kickout — foisted upon the game at Congress last month.

Sugrue bemoaned the constant “twisting and bending” of football by the powers-that-be. He also lamented the persistent knocking of the game by football pundits, describing hurling commentators as “a far steadier bunch”.

“There are too many rule changes in football at the moment, as opposed to hurling where they don’t change rules too often,” said Sugrue.

“They are a far steadier bunch of people. They talk of the joy of the game, the glory of the game, and [the] beautiful aspect of it a lot more, whereas some of our pundits give out that this is wrong and that is wrong in Gaelic football, and it’s a pity to see. 

I think a lot of [the tinkering] comes down to the pundits and, maybe, the media, and how they facilitate the discussion about football.

“We are moving, twisting, and bending our game in every which way possible. Are we trying to keep up with the scoring rate in hurling? If we are, we are going down the wrong path.

“Football has its own attractiveness. If we analyse the game with a small bit more regard to the intricacies, as opposed to the absolute entertainment value in terms of the scoreboard, then we will be going down a better path.”

Sugrue added: “[Rule-makers] cut down the available space for a short kickout by bringing the kickout to the 20-metre line. You can’t receive a kickout inside the 20-metre line, but I do not think we gave this enough time to see how many players are passing back to the goalkeeper. Am I against the new backpass rule? Not necessarily, but I don’t see the need for it.”

The Kerry U20s are in All-Ireland semi-final action against Galway on St Patrick’s Day (Croke Park, 2pm).