Tuesday 21 February 2017

Changes afoot for handpassing as GAA set to introduce trial ruling - report

Published 18/11/2015 | 08:13

Donegal’s Neil Gallagher gets his handpass away against Galway last summer
Donegal’s Neil Gallagher gets his handpass away against Galway last summer

The GAA is set to give a trial run to a new ruling that will limit the number of consecutive handpasses a team can make before a player is forced to kick pass.

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The Irish Daily Mail reports today that a proposal from the Association's Standing Rules Committee will limit the number of consecutive handpasses to three before a player is forced to kick the ball.

Chairman Jarlath Burns has admitted that no fixed time scale has been put on the proposal, though next year's Sigerson Cup could be used for the experiment, with the 2017 Championship mooted as a potential start date for the new proposal.

Former All-Ireland winner and RTE analysts Colm O'Rourke believes such a move would not necessarily solve the problem, but would increases the importance of players with strong foot passing skills.

"The game of football must be returned to foot-ball and the issue has been dodged for too long. Now the statistics are there for all to see," he wrote in his Sunday Independent column last month.

"Many players never even kick the ball. The rate of handpassing is running at four or five times the number of kicks and the problem is getting even worse - which most would not have thought possible.

"Reducing the number of consecutive handpasses to three would not cure the epidemic, but it would at least restore one of the fundamental principles of the game and mean that players who are good kickers of the ball would be more valuable in a team.

"It could even mean that you don't have to be an Olympic athlete to have a chance of getting on the county side."

Burns admitted that it could increase pressure on officials to implement the ruling.

"The fear is that you put pressure on someone under pressure when it gets to three handpasses and he then turns around and plays it back to the goalkeeper for example, Or you have a player running alongside to take a short kick pass which goes against the idea of delivering it. But we'll see how those sort of things work themselves out."

The re-introduction of the mark to encourage high fielding is another proposal the group are lobbying.

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