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Boylan calls for rule change to limit handpassing


Former Meath manager Sean Boylan

Former Meath manager Sean Boylan

Former Meath manager Sean Boylan

Former Meath manager Sean Boylan has made a strong pitch to the GAA's standing rules committee on limiting the number of successive handpasses in gaelic football.

The committee are looking at a number of possible changes to the playing rules in football, chiefly involving the square ball.

Boylan is convinced that the number of successive handpasses in one sequence should be restricted to four before the ball must be played away by the foot.

The 2006 and 2008 international rules manager believes the radical action should be taken to restore more kicking to the game.

Admitting that 2011 was an enjoyable one -- "with plenty of great patches of football in certain games" -- Boylan was, nonetheless, adamant that the sequences of handpassing in some games was far too long.

"I really would love to see a restriction coming in after four hand- passes. The argument is made that referees would find it hard to keep count of handpasses, but they are already well attuned to keeping count of the amounts of steps taken. So I don't see it as a problem," he said.

Boylan was manager of Meath when the last experiment with the number of handpasses was introduced in the early 1990s.

"On that occasion, it was limited to three handpasses before the ball had to be kicked, but three was too few. I'd go with one more. The primacy of kicking has to be restored in the game and so too does the instinct," he said.

Boylan hailed a great All-Ireland final 10 days ago, but suggested that if Kerry reflect on what they would like to change, kicking the ball more directly would be high on their list.

"I felt there was a critical time in the game when they overdid it. Eventually you run into trouble and they did."

Boylan says a case could be made for some teams being "almost too organised in the way they now play."

"I saw it with Kerry players in the final and Donegal players in the semi-final. They got to within scoring range, but didn't always have the ambition to shoot. I feel the requirement to kick would really open it up," he said.

Boylan admits he would also give consideration to the introduction of a second referee in championship games, but acknowledges there would be difficulties with that.

The standing rules committee must come up with proposals for the November Central Council meeting, but GAA director general Paraic Duffy said last week that significant change was not expected in the first year.

Meanwhile, Offaly could have a new football manager by the end of this week. There are three candidates set for interview -- home-grown Tom Coffey and Stephen Darby and former Dublin footballer Jack Sheedy, who has had success with Moorefield in Kildare in recent years.

Irish Independent