Tohill: Our game has evolved

ANTHONY TOHILL has dismissed his opposite number Rodney Eade’s suggestion that Gaelic football hasn’t evolved over the last 100 years.

The Australian coach made the odd remark on the official AFL website last week: “They have had their thoughts for 100 years and they’ve stayed the same, whereas our game’s evolved and our thinking has evolved.”

However, Tohill disagreed entirely, citing how much the game has moved on from when he retired from playing for Derry eight years ago.

“I don’t remember much about the game 100 years ago but I do know that it’s changed immensely even since I stopped playing,” said Tohill.

“It’s something we have to roll with at this level too because we’re all used to playing in certain ways.”

Tohill maintains the International Rules game has developed incredibly in recent years. He uses the example of Eade’s predecessor Mick Malthouse to illustrate his point.

“Once the Australians moved away from the All Australian [their All Stars] selection — even look at how they played in 2008 and compare it with last year. Speak to Mick Malthouse about that and their evolution. He inherited it and I spoke to him about it last year when he was over.

“He more or less inherited a system and was more or less told, ‘this is how the game is played’. When he was there himself he realised that wasn’t how the game was played.”

As Tohill awaited the arrival of captain Stephen Cluxton, his Parnells teammate and Laois skipper Colm Begley and Wicklow’s Leighton Glynn yesterday and Galway defender Finian Hanley today, he admitted Darran O’Sullivan’s absence hampered preparations.

“This past few weeks since we started have been far from ideal but this is the way it is. The GAA’s based on the club, isn’t it?

“The international side of it is extremely important. It’s not been ideal — the departure weekend has not been ideal but there’s no point in complaining about it. Some things are within our control and some things aren’t and you just make the best of it.”

Asked if he would support a two-week moratorium on club fixtures to facilitate the Rules series, he agreed something should be done to ensure Ireland are represented by the best.

“I suppose I have to be careful of what I say. We’re grateful in the way that clubs and counties have allowed players come away and play with us.

“We need our best players playing this game and we need as much time as we can to prepare for this series.

“I think something needs to be looked at. County finals used to be played in September so why is it now that county finals are being played in October and at the end of October?

“Fair enough, we understand it for counties that have been in the All-Ireland final but even from a club player’s point of view why does he start training in January and not be finished by November?”

Tohill confirmed Ireland will not be participating in a scheduled training game against a Victorian selection.

“We’ve played those guys [Victoria Amateur Football League selection] in Croke Park [last week] and it was a better time-frame to get a match under our belts.

“If we’d played that match this week it would have been very difficult to turn round any injuries. It was important to play a game, yes, but it was better to play it before we left.”

Tohill also dropped a big hint he won’t be looking for a third year in charge when the series is expected to resume in Ireland in 2013.

“I’m in the wonderful position of whatever happens, I’m gone! It’s not that I have to worry about my future. The only pressure I experience is the pressure I put myself under.

“I think it is important because otherwise you’ve got someone coming in who starts from scratch. There’s a lot of learning necessary to play this, as it’s not Gaelic football and that again is why it’s easier for the AFL guys because it’s more akin to their game.

“Look at the way our game has evolved over the past five, six, seven years and the way the Australian game has evolved. Games are constantly changing and you do need to have that bit of continuity.

“For me, as a player and then in with Seán Boylan, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. We’ll see what happens about continuity going forward but it won’t be a concern of mine.”

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