Tuesday 20 August 2019

Martin Breheny: Slick Aussies use a different handpass

Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly fires a hand pass
Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly fires a hand pass
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Since International Rules is a mix of Australian and Irish football games, it's always interesting to examine how players from either code adapt to aspects that are essentially alien to them.

The tackle, which allows a player to be hauled to the ground, is a challenging area for Gaelic footballers, while accurately kicking a round, rather than an oval, ball should be difficult for the Australians.

However, apart from the occasional wild swipe, they manage it pretty well. That was certainly the case in Perth last year where Australia outscored Ireland 17-9 in 'overs', the equivalent of points in Gaelic football.

In fairness, much of that was down to Australia's dominance in other aspects of the game, which enabled them to work the ball into good scoring positions, whereas Ireland were often shooting under intense pressure from difficult angles.

One area where the Australians held a big advantage, which had nothing to do with the rules of the game, was handpassing. Watch out for it again on Saturday night when the countries clash in Croke Park.

The speed with which the Australians pass is much quicker than the Irish players because that's how it works in their respective games.

As if it didn't have a sufficiently corrosive impact on Gaelic football, the handpass is slow and laboured, in contrast to the quick, slick version applying in AFL.

For whatever reason, Jarlath Burns' rules review group has made no proposal to amend the handpass in any way in Gaelic football, instead confining their recommendations to making it obligatory for kick-outs to travel past the 45-metre line.

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It's a good idea and, if adopted, will have some impact on handpassing, since short kick-outs will be outlawed, thereby stopping teams from beginning the slow build-up inside their 20-metre lines.

After that, it will continue to be handball as usual. It's a chance lost by Burns and Co.

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