Gaelic football’s bad press is unwarranted, says Gallagher

Gaelic football is receiving unwarranted bad press and the experimental handpass rule is unnecessary, says Donegal defender Eoghan Bán Gallagher.

The Killybegs man argues the limit of three consecutive handpasses comes just as teams are becoming more expansive in their play as they aim to emulate the All-Ireland champions.

“To beat Dublin, you probably do need to put up 20 or 21 points because they’re going to score 18 or 19 points regardless.”

He continues: “I know a lot of teams, the teams in Division 1 and that, are trying to play an attacking style of football. It’s starting to go that way so that is the way you have to play. I think that the rules are a wee bit out of touch because I watched the club championship and people are forgetting how good the club football championship has been, it’s been absolutely brilliant to watch. Just looking in from the outside, there have been some absolutely brilliant games.

“But even in the county scene last year, there were some brilliant games. I remember watching Roscommon/Armagh, Kildare/Mayo was fantastic in Newbridge as well as Monaghan against Kerry in Clones. If you have more teams being competitive it’s going to make for better games.”

For that reason, Gallagher is a supporter of the Super 8s concept because it is pitting teams of similar standing against one another. However, he believes the success of the hurling championship has also coloured people’s opinions of football’s equivalent.

I was watching it (the hurling) and every game you just didn’t know which way it was going to go. You could be seven or eight points down and still come back so that made it a fantastic watch.

“I remember when Kilkenny were dominant and I don’t think the hurling championship was as good in the media (in terms of positivity) and then the football championship was good then because it was so competitive with different winners every year. Maybe it’s to do with the competitiveness of it but I think that football has had a bit of exaggerated bad press.”

Gallagher, who returns to the Donegal set-up later this month as he concludes accountancy exams, accepts the handpass rule will impact on Donegal but firmly believes it will impinge on a lot of others.

“I think it’s going to make teams who play blanket defences far harder to break down, which isn’t necessarily what we want. I think the idea behind it in encouraging teams to kick is what they’re aiming for but they’re not going the right way about it.

“I’ve watched a few games and the handpass (rule) seems to be slowing the game down because players are thinking, ‘Is this my second or third handpass?’ and they end up turning back and kicking the ball rather than going forward. I think it has to be reviewed.”

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