Following Congress earlier this month, the infamous Squareball rule has now bitten the dust.
What will the pundits talk about this summer? Well, goalkeepers getting flattened by inrushing burly full forwards will be the first talking point. Or full forwards getting flattened by outrushing burly goalkeepers.
Benny Tierney flagged this yesterday in the Irish News and I agree – I think teams will tactically deploy the big man two yeards further forward in the square as opposed to the edge of the square. Goalkeepers beware!
Your grandad and granny will remember Bert Trautmann the Man City Goalkeep who played in an FA Cup Final with a dislocated shoulder after an incoming forward bursted him.
In our club we used to play a form of Basketball invented by Philistines. This involved a sort of composite rules approach that allowed a version of rugby tackle and the odd sly punch in the ribs or balls depending on who was involved.
The other feature was a big lad called Sean who stood under the basket, lurking with intent. He was an intimidating presence in there and caused mayhem. He would have relished the change in the Squareball ruling.
I expect more of the same from now on in gaelic games. For some reason in recent years the issue of the Squareball has become more and more contentious. Possibly in these days of retaining possession and working the score, teams are less likely to lump the ball in long. Therefore there were less Squareball decisions and more focus on them when they did happen.For some people the new rule hasn’t sunk in. At each of the last two club matches I have attended someone has shouted ‘Squareball!”
In years gone by the GAA revelled in the big man who kept a tidy square. This inevitably involved a ‘Thou Shalt Not Pass’ approach that combined no-nonsense defending with pure thuggery. All to protect the ‘keeper of course. Squareball offered a modicum of protection but with that gone, the keeper will have to be able to look after himself.
Enter Pascal McConnell the Tyrone netminder who has welcomed the change albeit cautiously. But then Packie has little to worry about, remember Gooch’s mysterious eye injury in the 2005 All Ireland when he dared to venture into Packie’s patch, dislodging a rogue ginger eyelash in the process that required some attention.
The pundits will have to find something else to moan about. But then that shouldn’t be too hard for the miserable hoors. Roll on the summer.