Search icon


28th Sep 2023

“It cleans up everybody’s act” – Donaghy encourages Gaelic football to adopt AFL’s 50-metre rule

Niall McIntyre

Kieran Donaghy has suggested the implementation of the AFL’s 50-metre rule in Gaelic football.

The Armagh coach/selector feels that it would eliminate some of the mouthing, pettiness and overall messing that occurs in the game currently.

In the AFL, the 50-metre penalty gives referees the power to punish players for indiscipline and un-sports-man-like conduct. It comes into play when certain infractions/time-wasting measures are deployed when a free-kick has already been awarded.

As well as penalising gamesmanship, Donaghy also feels it would help to improve the treatment of referees and would reduce the abuse they are given by players.

“I have said it before,” says Donaghy, as part of a partnership between Virgin Media and Tralee warriors, “the most simple and effective rule that would cut out a lot of your nonsense is the Aussie Rules’ 50 metre rule. It is the easiest one to officiate, it is the easiest one to bring in.

“If you win a free in the half back line late in the game and a team is stopping you taking it, it is 50 metres down the field, you plank it down and put it over the bar and it ends that.”

Stefan Okunbur

“It stops fellows toe poking the ball away, it stops messing with free takers when they are trying to take quick frees when they are chasing the game.

“And yeah, I think that would be the easiest one to bring in that would alleviate a lot of the messing that goes late in games when teams are either chasing the game or a team are trying to get back into a game.

“I watch a lot of Aussie rules and it’s one of the cleanest, quickest and one of the best rules they have.

“We take an awful lot of rules from the Aussie rules, but I don’t know why we are not looking at that one.”

“I think even in the club games when fellas mouthing to referees; I think it would end all that pretty quickly if there was punishment for mouthing or foul language was 50 metres from where the incident occurs, with the freetakers we have in the game now, you are punishing the scoreboard and once you start punishing the scoreboard I think it cleans up everybody’s act pretty quickly.”

Interestingly, despite having been a part of a number of penalty shoot-out losses for Armagh, Donaghy feels that, given the current schedule, they are the only way forward. He feels that golden score, for example, would put too much pressure on officials.

“I think it is too much pressure to be putting on officials to have a golden score.

“The pace and power of these fellows now and the speed they are running at, I just think that would be a nightmare for the officials if they knew that they made that call for a free and a team is knocked out on that basis, it is very difficult.

“I would say with the scheduling, with the way it is organised, with the split season I don’t think there is any way around it really.”

On the subject of the calendar, Donaghy does however feel that, as it was this year, it’s too cramped.

“There has to be a bit more space for after you’ve qualified for the quarter-final, that there’s a bit more breathing space or even an (extra) week between quarter-final and semi-final.

“You know, they have to try to find some gap inside there to give people a bit of fair play.

“Because one, you’re coming down off the high and getting ready for another big game, but two, fellas that pick up slight knocks here and there, it’s tough on guys that are training all year and then they miss the biggest games of the season.

“If you look at someone like Sean Kelly, for example, this year with Galway, getting injured in the Armagh game and he’s under savage pressure to be back out there for that Mayo game.

“If they were to go on then it’s a race against time then for trying to play these big games and that’s what the best players want to be ready for, the biggest games of the season. Look, it’s tough but we’re trying to accommodate all the players, club and county, so…but I don’t think the guys in the last four, the counties we’ll say, I don’t think they’d have any issue at that stage.

“They’d have done their holidays, they’d have done their weddings and they’re getting told, look, our championship is going to be put back two or three weeks, I don’t think there’d be huge consternation if that was the case,” he added.

Virgin Media are delighted to support Irish Super League Basketball team Tralee Warriors BC, coinciding with Virgin Media’s rollout of 2gb full fibre broadband to more homes and businesses across Ireland, including the town of Tralee.

Related links: