Gaelic keepers must be Shielded now

Cork defender Michael Shields has revealed his concern about the new square ball rule, which could come into operation for the start of next month’s provincial championships.

Central Council will soon decide whether or not to introduce the relaxation of the rule, after a vote at congress last weekend, which will allow attackers into the small rectangle before the ball is played in.

Shields gave his thoughts about the new ruling by stating:  “It will be tough on the backs when the ball comes in around the house.  There are going to be real wrestling matches in the square to get the ball.

“To be honest with you, I preferred the rules they way they were.  I think that’s the best way of officiating, unless you make the square bigger.

“We will have to try to hold out the man [the attacker] as much as we can.  We will have to communicate with our ‘keeper as much as possible.

“Our ‘keeper will have a better view than me when a dropping ball is coming into the square.  He can tell me for example to get a punch to the ball or else to hold the man off.  It is probably the best way [for defences] to work it.

“I just think there is room for error the way it is at the moment.  If it goes one way, it can end up in the back of our net but if the square is made bigger there would be less mistakes made and they could officiate it that bit easier.”

On the introduction of mandatory gumshields from 2014, two-time All-Star and 2010 All-Ireland winner Shields admitted that despite losing teeth, he hasn’t been wearing a mouth-guard because he finds it uncomfortable.

“I have had my teeth knocked out a few times.  I don’t really wear gumshields often though because I find it hard to breathe with them.

“It is going to save parents and the GAA a lot of money if it is made compulsory.  Eoin Cadogan is similar to me in that he has lost a few teeth over the years.  But he started wearing a gumshield now and he swears by it.  It is something I am going to have to address as well and get used to.”


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