Saturday 16 February 2019

'It’s going to be very hard for the ref' - Kerry star O'Brien casts doubt on new hand-pass rule

Kerry forward Stephen O'Brien isn't a big fan of the proposed restriction on hand-passes. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Kerry forward Stephen O'Brien isn't a big fan of the proposed restriction on hand-passes. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Conor McKeon

KERRY footballer Stephen O’Brien is the latest county player to cast doubt over the future of the proposed hand pass rule.

GAA’s Central Council will meet on Saturday and vote on which of the five playing rule changes to adopt for the forthcoming Allianz league competitions, with the restriction on the number of hand-passes causing the greatest unrest in the games played so far in this year’s pre-season competitions.

Speaking at the launch of this year’s Allianz football leagues, O’Brien said the extra responsibility of counting the number of hand-passes could be "a nightmare for refs" and that the rule would make it more difficult for teams to break down deep-lying defenses.

"It’s going to be very hard for the ref to control that," O’Brien, who added that he was in favour of the other four proposed rule changes, outlined.

"He has to count the steps, they’re going to count whether he’s hopped it twice – they’re trying to look inside if there’s pulling off the ball and he might miss a hand pass.

"It’s going to be a nightmare for refs."

O'Brien revealed that Kerry had been preparing for the start of the league by using all of the new rules in training but had yet to see evidence of increased tendency for teams to kick the ball unless absolutely necessary.

"You’re going to kick it the man if he’s open and he’s far away from you but you’ll kick to him if he’s close," he explained.

"So you’re going to end up with a lot of two-yard jab kick passes to get out of trouble – probably even kicking it backwards if you’re on the third hand pass.

"It’s going to be very hard to break down a blanket defence with it. Maybe if they change it that (the count) doesn’t come into it if you’re in the opposition’s ’65.

"The other rules are good,” O’Brien added.

"I’d be in favour of them. Especially the sin bin."

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