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07th Nov 2018

Dunshaughlin’s revised rules tournament really put the foot back into football

Michael Corry


A lot of criticism has been levelled at Gaelic football in the past couple of seasons, with many supporters calling for rule changes in order to improve standards.

Whilst some agree and others disagree, at the end of the day there is no harm in trying out new things, which is exactly what Meath club Dunshaughlin GAA did this past weekend when they played host to a revised rules tournament.

The tournament fell at the right time for the club in that one week after they discussed the idea, the GAA came out with their own revised rule set that they will look to trial during the inter-county season.

Some of the Dunshaughlin’s rule changes mirrored exactly what the GAA had proposed.


Club sectretary, Jim Gilligan discussed how the idea came about and how it fell for them at the right time.

“Some of the senior players in the club, Caoimhin King, John Cribben, Tony Johnstone and Ben Duggan – all them had the idea of trying something different.” Gilligan said.

“It actually came about before the GAA announced their revised rules in the last month or so, we had come up with the idea a week or so before that, and we came up with a number of rules ourselves that we thought we’d try out.

“Some of them the GAA had, some of them they didn’t.”

Gilligan admits that the idea came about after talk of football being ruled by defensive systems gained more traction. Dunshaughlin found themselves at a loose end having been put out of their respective championship and with the GAA announcing rule changes a week later, it fell at the correct time for them to gain some publicity out of it.

“It came about as a result of talk in the media about football being boring and ruled by defensive systems. We thought it would be a bit of a novel idea that may be of interest to people around the country, and would be good publicity for the club. 

“It was just kind of an end of the year thing because the lads were out of the championship and there was no football going on.

“I suppose they just had the idea of trying it out and it turned out what happened was the GAA issued it’s own revised rules for next year, a week later and that brought more media attention and publicity on it.”

Gilligan highlighted that the one rule that worked out the best was playing 13-a-side as it created more space and allowed the game to open up, as well as this, having a rule in place that prevented teams going backwards from sideline kicks or going back into their own half worked out well.

“I think the thing that worked out best of all was the 13-a-side because that created space and the game became more open, that definitely worked.

“The rules about the ball being kicked forward and not going back into your own half worked because the ball tended to be going forward all the time rather than backwards and sideways and there was much more forward momentum in the game as a result.”

Having been involved in Gaelic football for most of your life, to have to play with seven different rule changes is a daunting prospect for both the players and referees, however both were able to get into the swing of the revised game very quickly.

The only problem that seemed to exist was the rule that you had to kick the ball after every third hand pass.

“No the players and the referees got used to it fairly quickly,” Gilligan said. 

“I suppose the three hand pass rule was difficult for referees to keep track off. Do you call out ‘1,2,3’ so players are aware?

“The three passes in a row might not be as good an idea as you think initially, especially if you are close to goals and you end up having to take on a shot when your not in a position to, whereas a hand pass might get you out of trouble. I think that particular rule might need a bit more thought.”

There were five teams competing in the tournament with each game lasting 15 minutes per half. Each team had at least three games, with the top two meeting in the final. The tournament was won by Dreadnots GFC from Louth who overcame Dunshaughlin’s near neighbours St. Peters Dunboyne in the final.

The day turned out to be very successful, and Dunshaughlin are already thinking of making it an annual tournament.

“It’s something we would consider, although it probably wasn’t the best time of the year for it.

“The problem with this time of year is that a lot of clubs may have gone down and don’t have management teams in place for the year. Therefore it could be difficult enough to get teams.

“I think early spring before the real football starts would be a good time to run it.”

It is very important to note that all proceeds from the tournament were donated to the Sean Cox fund. A very admirable move by Dunshaughlin GAA to raise funds for a member of a rival club.

“We made a contribution to the Sean Cox fund from it, I suppose it was good that Dunboyne and ourselves, we would have competed in heated championship clashes before and it was great for the two clubs to meet in this type of environment.

“Some of the lads would know Sean personally, he was Dunboyne chairman a couple of years ago and would have played against some of the lads for the Dunboyne junior team.”

Fair play to Dunshaughlin GAA.


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