Tuesday 21 November 2017

Excessive hand-passing 'just a fad'

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The Football Review Committee opted not to recommend a limit on the number of consecutive hand-passes allowed in Gaelic football because they feel excessive use is a "trend" which will continue to come and go.

The report suggested that to limit hand-passes would be "equivalent to playing a conditioned game" and that there was no solid evidence that it would improve the sport overall.

It had been expected that some modification on hand-passing would be included in the recommendations.

FRC chairman Eugene McGee said the hand-pass was something which could be monitored and if it reached a particular level then it could be addressed.

Statistics bear testimony to that conviction. The report outlines how the ratio of hand-passes to kick-passes in the 1970s was 1.1:1 but by 2000 that had risen to 1.8:1. By 2010 it was 2.3:1 but, significantly, this year the games involving the top eight teams showed a ratio of 2.1:1, a decrease on 2010 figures.

"The analytical research is pre-eminent here. It is accurate and it can tell you exactly what is happening," said McGee, who outlined the trends over the last 80 years and how Kildare in the 1920s, Antrim in the 1940s and Kerry in the 1970s used the hand-pass to telling effect to achieve success.

He noted the reaction in the 1970s to Kerry's style of play.

"People said 'this is the end of the GAA as we know it.' It's been to the fore for 10 or 12 years now and with Donegal in 2011 people said 'this is definitely the end now' but it wasn't and Donegal won the All-Ireland this year with half the hand-passes they had then," he said.

"Hand-passing is not a core value of the game like kicking or catching is. It is a trend, a fad that comes and goes at the behest of good managers who decide that they have the kind of players that suit the hand-pass.

"The point we are making is that the stats bear it out that hand-passing is a trend and that, while they may dominate for a period, it goes away. It may be related to a group of managers or to types of players. It is not a core part of the game.

"That is why we are leaving it as it is, but we are also putting in a strong recommendation that this be monitored on an annual basis.

"If that ratio were to go back to three, or four, or five to one, then definitely the GAA would have to move.

"I know a lot of people will be very disappointed that we haven't done anything with the hand-pass, but we have given our explanation for it which shows that the hand-pass is not going to grow non-stop."

McGee outlined how 50pc of hand-passes went forward, 30pc were lateral and 20pc went backwards.

Other considerations which didn't make proposal status were the 'tap and go', 13-a-side games and rewarding long-range points.

The committee felt that rewarding long-range points could devalue and lead to fewer goals. The tap and go had a mixed response on the online questionnaire.

Irish Independent

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