Tipperary boss labels handpass lawmakers ‘intelligent fools’

TIPPERARY manager John Evans yesterday labelled the officials who passed the new handpass legislation in football as “intelligent fools”, with Kerry boss Jack O’Connor also joining the criticism following yesterday’s Munster SFC quarter-final at Semple Stadium.

Under new guidelines, officially in force since last Saturday week, if a player handpasses the ball using the open hand, there must be a definite underhand striking action.

There were teething problems in Thurles yesterday but Evans and O’Connor were reluctant to criticise referee David Coldrick, who briefed them before the game, and instead unleashed their anger on officialdom.

Coldrick awarded frees on at least ten occasions for handpass infringements while Tipp and Kerry were both punished for improper sideline kicks, which must now be taken from outside the boundary line.

But it was the handpass rule specifically which exercised the minds of O’Connor and Evans immediately after the game.

Kerry boss O’Connor warned a critical call could cost a team a championship game: “This is a massive change in a skill that the players have been practising for the last 15 years. Suddenly they hear about it two weeks before the championship – it’s mind boggling.”

Sheehan netted for Kerry in the first half after taking a pass from Donaghy which was deemed illegal. But O’Connor insisted: “I thought that was a legal pass, even though it was kind of overhand; it was a closed fist. But I’m not giving out about David Coldrick – of course referees will get these calls wrong. Somewhere down the line there’s going to be a critical call that will cost a team a match. All hell is going to break loose.”

The handpass rule experimented with during the National Leagues was shot down but a separate motion containing the new version was one of 15 rule changes, six in football, three in hurling and six applicable to both, which got through.

O’Connor added: “Somebody somewhere has determined to get that rule through by hook or by crook. It was obvious that the handpass in the league was going to be defeated. Mickey Harte described it well when he said that it was brought in underhand but look, I’m not involved in bringing in rules of deciding rules. I’m involved in the coaching side of it. There’s no other game in the world where you would change a fundamental skill and give the players a crash course a week before the thing to learn it. These players have been passing the ball this way for 15 years – in the name of Jaysus.”

Evans could find himself in hot water for his comments as he raged: “I used to do interviews for a school one time. I was thinking in the car coming up from Kerry and the one thing we used to do when I was on the panel was to stop the intelligent fool getting through.

“I honestly think intelligent fools have gotten through to administrate this stuff here. They are hugely intelligent, they are certainly being paid well, but to come along and bring rules before us today... to bring poor David Coldrick into the dressing room...

“The referee wants the game to go well, Jack O’Connor wants it to go well, John Evans wants it to go well and yet we have been hit with this.

“This is silly lads, it is beyond belief.”

And he insisted: “It’s not good enough lads. That’s what we’re dealing with. I always say, if you go into a position of authority you should have a small bit of pragmatism and a bit of practical knowledge.”

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