Walsh urges radical reform of football rules

Munster Council chairman, Sean Walsh, will approach the GAA’s Rules Advisory Committee over the coming months to urge them to revamp Gaelic football by experimenting with the abolition of the mandatory pick off the ground with the foot, reintroducing the mark to promote high fielding and trialing an Australian Rules-style tackle.

Walsh believes it is imperative that these rule changes are passed at Congress in a year where there are minimal motions on the rules of the game.

“We saw at the last Congress, there was absolutely too many rules. It took too long and the Uachtarán was under extreme pressure to finish the Congress. He did a very good job. I believe that if you have a few rules in a given year and they are debated fully, it’ll be better. My view isn’t the only view, there will be opposing ones. But if it’s tried at Congress and passed, then give it a proper chance.

“I feel strongly on those three rules and I’ve spoken about them before, going back to when I was chairman of the Kerry County Board. I intend to put these thoughts to the Rules Advisory Committee in relation to these three rules. I’m going to do that over the next few months and I want to make sure it is on their agenda as I feel strongly on them.

“I was very disappointed when the mark was experimented with and it didn’t get a better hearing at Congress. I believe it should be tried again and if we want to bring the fielding back into our game, this is the one way to do it.

“In relation to the pick-up, I have long held the view that in its current state, it has no need to be in the game. The AFL proved that with the pace of the game and our own Ladies Football have proved that with the pace of their game. They should both be looked at seriously.”

Walsh witnessed the improvements that can be wrought from the implementation of the tackle when serving as tour manager previously with the Irish International Rules team.

“There has no attempt being made to redefine the tackle over a long number of years. Having been involved with the International Rules team, I saw at first hand what the tackle could do there. I was the tour manager for the second last series and I found that was the one thing which helped speed up the game. If you go into a tackle with the ball there, you lose the ball. What that meant is you had to release the ball. We’ve had no releasing of the ball, what we’ve been seeing in our game, developing over the last few years, is an enormous amount of short hand-passing. I believe we should experiment that in a given year in the National League.”

Walsh has described as ‘worrying’ the defensive systems that have become dominant in the GAA and believes that greater usage of kick-passing is the desire of the majority of supporters around the country. He also insists that managers cannot be castigated for trying to use a system that plays to the strengths of their team.

“It worries everybody but if a team manager tries it and gets results with it, more managers will be trying it. That’s the way it’s going to operate. It’s unattractive, to say the least. Every team manager is going to play to the strengths of the team he has at that given time. If you’ve a 6’ 6’’ full-forward, you’ll play a different type of game than if you had a 5’ 9’’ full-forward. That’s the way the game has gone. All managers are playing to their strengths. But everybody we talk to about modern Gaelic football says they want to bring more kicking and foot-passing into the game. I think the three of these rules would work very well and help in that regard.”


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