| 17°C Dublin

Close

Premium


Higher skill levels and better scoring rates: Why the winds of change are blowing the right way for football

Dermot Crowe



Close

Stephen Cluxton is the accepted leader of the
restart revolution in Gaelic football Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Stephen Cluxton is the accepted leader of the restart revolution in Gaelic football Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Stephen Cluxton is the accepted leader of the restart revolution in Gaelic football Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Though it has not aged well, the 1981 All-Ireland final featured some of Gaelic football's best players and one of its finest ever goals. Kerry already had a three-point lead when an elaborate move culminated in a thunderous strike from Jack O'Shea that left Martin Furlong grasping air. Without being at their peak, Kerry completed four in a row.

If those players were to look back they'd find some of the football undeniably sloppy and unsophisticated. But allowances need to be made.

Players moved to the traditional rhythms of catch and kick. The '81 final had 82 hand-passes; last year's All-Ireland final replay recorded 426. In '81 the ball was kicked 146 times outside of scoring attempts. Last year's replay had 97. But those 97 were likely to have been of a high quality, whereas a good many of the 146 are best forgotten.