Larry Tompkins lambasts state of football

Cork legend Larry Tompkins has offered a damning assessment of the modern game, labelling it “cotton wool football” and calling for an urgent overhaul.

Larry Tompkins lambasts state of football

The former All-Ireland winning captain was speaking in the context of Sunday’s Allianz football league final which he predicted to be a pragmatic affair.

He said that both Cork and Dublin are more defensively minded this year following scarring defeats in 2014 and are likely to play counter attacking games once again.

Tompkins stressed that he wasn’t apportioning blame to either management team and admitted he would probably do the same himself if still in management.

Rather he said that it is the rules of the game which need immediate addressing to breathe excitement back into football.

“It is quite evident to me that there’s several rules which have to be brought in sooner rather than later,” said Tompkins.

“If I had a number one priority, it’s that the ball must travel out beyond the 45 metre line from kick outs. That’s a really big one for me and I think if that happened you’d see the whole pattern of games changing.

“The second thing would be to eliminate passing back to the goalkeeper. A goalkeeper is nearly an outfield player these days with all the passes they’re getting. That doesn’t make sense to me.

“The other thing would be to ensure that scoreable frees are kicked off the ground only. When they allowed frees to be kicked from the hand, people eventually cottoned on that goalkeepers were the ones who practiced kicking most and sent them up.

“If everyone was taking them off the ground, you’d have a lot more fellas working on their free-kicking from the ground again. I think you’d see a lot less goalkeepers marching up the field.”

Ex-Cork manager Tompkins took umbrage also with the introduction of the black card last year. He said it has left players afraid of engaging in big hits, dumbing down and sanitising the game overall.

“We need confrontation in the game,” he said. “If you go hard at a fella now, you’re in danger of being sent off. It’s gone very much like cotton wool football. You really need more physicality and more confrontation because those are great skills and aspects of the game which are being lost.

“In order for the crowd to be involved and invested in the whole thing, you need that confrontation. But the reality now is that players are afraid to touch each other, it’s having a cotton wool effect on games. Guys can’t go out for the ball and hit hard any more.”

Tompkins accepted that under the present rules, traditionally attacking teams like Cork and Dublin have little choice but to curb their instincts or be suffocated by defensive regimes.

“I don’t think Cork are going to change that much this weekend from what they’ve been doing,” said Tompkins. “They will rotate their players back a lot and try to counter attack on the break. That’s been their style of play throughout the course of the year. I don’t see it changing much. It takes a high level of running and guys who are able to play certain roles. It makes for a very tactical battle. It can be fairly hard to watch.

“But if I was over either team in the morning, you’d probably have to look at whatever you need to do to win the game. What do you do? You can go out there foolishly and blindly attacking but the modern game isn’t set up that way. It’s a pity. It’s not the fault of Jim Gavin or Brian Cuthbert. That’s just the system that’s there.”

Meanwhile, Connacht champions Mayo will be without attacker Evan Regan for the next three months. The corner-forward has suffered a broken collarbone for the second time in a matter of weeks. The Ballina Stephenites man suffered the setback in training on Tuesday night having previously broken the same bone against Kerry in February.

GAA chiefs last night called off a proposed American Football game between Boston College and Georgia Tech in 2016. The strength of the dollar against the euro means that the staging of the game at headquarters was no longer viable without significant support from government agencies.

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