Walsh wants compromise on tackle

Munster GAA chairman Sean Walsh has signed off on his term of office by reiterating his view that the GAA must introduce an Australian Rules-tackle into Gaelic football.

Walsh wants compromise on tackle

The Kerry native, who steps down from his position at this evening’s Munster Council convention in Bunratty, is in full support of the Football Review Committee’s (FRC) recommendations.

However, he believes the area around the tackle in Gaelic football remains a grey area and proposes the tackle that is allowed in International Rules be introduced, whereby a player must release the ball if he has been held below the shoulders and above the thighs.

“I have advocated for a long number of years that the tackle should be properly defined. Everybody talks about the non-defined tackle so if we want to do it then use the tackle that is allowed in the compromise rules.

“If you take the ball into the tackle and you don’t use it, you lose it. It’s the one thing that speeds up the Compromise Rules game and down the road I think it needs to be looked at.”

Walsh believes the International Rules series has also exposed just how well an amendment of the pick-up and the introduction of the mark-up, which are put forward by FRC, can work in Gaelic football.

“I welcome the Football Review Committee’s proposals that are there at the moment. It’s a long time ago when I was Kerry chairman that I called for the direct pick-up and the mark. I called for them again in my address as chairman of the Munster Council. I believe that given we have invested a lot of time, effort and money into the compromise rules games we should be taking ideas from them.

“We saw the advantages of the pick-up and the mark and we didn’t do anything about moving forward with them when we should have.

“I hope they are passed and I believe they will have an immediate effect on the game.”

Walsh will wake up tomorrow as an ordinary GAA member for the first time in 30 years. Twelve years as Moyvane chairman, eight years as an officer of Kerry County Board, 10 years as county chairman. He didn’t hang up his boots until the age of 42 either.

But this evening when he steps down as Munster chairman, that stretch of service to the GAA will come to an end. At least for a little while, anyway. He won’t be drawn on it but there is a distinct possibility he will put his name forward for higher office in the future.

“One occasion that stood out was the 2011 Munster U21 hurling final in Limerick. It was a fabulous occasion that had everything that is good about Munster hurling. The last half an hour of that match was unreal. When I came into office I said to several people that I felt I would be an unlucky chairman and I wouldn’t get the opportunity to present a cup to a Kerry senior captain. I saw Cork being on the crest of a wave and I presented the first two Munster cups out of three to a Kerry captain. That was also very nice.

“As regards headquarters, we had felt for some time we need offices that befitted the association in Munster. We believe that is now the case and the building is a credit to the people and the officers in Munster who have worked over a lifetime in making the resources that allowed us to take this major step.”

A more serious issue than when he succeeded Jimmy O’Gorman, Walsh appreciates rural depopulation is one of the biggest difficulties facing the GAA at present.

“In Kerry, there are clubs who when I was playing were in Division One in the league and yet they are now struggling to hold on to their senior status. That is a challenge. It will take everybody working together to ensure there are structures put in place so that people who remain are able to play Gaelic games whether that is in their own team, amalgamated teams or group teams.”

On the flipside, the area of urbanisation is something he feels the GAA has to address. “It’s a challenge for the GAA to make themselves known to families who have never had any association with the GAA.

“To invite them in to make them feel welcome, wanted and more importantly to make them feel they have a role to play in the GAA.”

Picture: MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Outgoing Munster Council chairman Sean Walsh and GAA president Liam O’Neill at Castletroy recently. Walsh has spent 30 years in GAA high office. Picture: Dan Linehan

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