Tuesday 19 June 2018

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Why are handpass concerns ignored?

Breheny Beat

'Are the GAA committee charged with monitoring rules oblivious to what’s happening and to public opinion? Sadly, it appears so' (stock picture)
'Are the GAA committee charged with monitoring rules oblivious to what’s happening and to public opinion? Sadly, it appears so' (stock picture)
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

My experience with this column over recent years is that no topic attracts as much response as the manner in which the handpass is impacting on Gaelic football.

The volume grew substantially last week after I did the maths (handpasses 394 - footpasses 78) for the Galway-Mayo borefest. Thanks to everyone who replied in what was unanimous agreement that the handpass - as currently used - is seriously corrupting the game.

One interesting theory that emerged as to why there is a fall-off in playing numbers at a certain age is that players no longer enjoy playing club football because of the primacy of the handpass. I don't know if that's the case, but it's beyond question that its dominance has changed football in a manner few would have envisaged.

There was widespread criticism of the handpass, as deployed by the great Kerry and Dublin teams, back in the 1970s and eventually the rules governing the technique were changed. Most of the unease back then centred on whether the ball was being thrown.

That was definitely an issue but at least handpassing was done at speed in an attempt to weave through defences, as opposed to the slow, ponderous ball retention systems of today.

Last Sunday's Monaghan-Tyrone game received rave reviews as if were a classic of sorts. No, it wasn't.

A 1-18 to 1-16 scoreline doesn't automatically equate to high standards. The handpass/footpass count was 329/71 so it wasn't as if we saw a new and innovative approach.

Even the 71 footpass count is misleading, since many of them were delivered backwards from standing positions after channels were blocked. Are the GAA committee charged with monitoring rules oblivious to what's happening and to public opinion? Sadly, it appears so.

Irish Independent

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