Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Hopefully game will kick on: McDonnell

New Armagh under-21 football team boss Steven McDonnell is one of many high-profile Ulster personalities who have lauded the quality of play in the drawn All Ireland semi-final between Dublin and Kerry earlier this month.

Down ace Benny Coulter, Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh and Crosmaglen Rangers icon Oisin McConville are among those effusive in their praise of a match which McDonnell labels "an epic."

And along with a host of other players they have expressed the hope that kick-passing can once again become more pronounced within the sport.

With Dublin and Kerry having provided a much-needed glowing advertisement for gaelic football and resurrecting the sense of adventure which has been conspicuous by its absence from the sport of late, the hope now is that the sport itself can undergo something of a transformation.

"It was terrific to watch the accurate kick-passing which was a feature of the drawn game. Some of the scoring was exceptional too. I certainly hope that both aspects can be repeated in the final on Sunday week," states McDonnell.

Given that we have suffered a sustained diet of tedious, yawn-inducing lateral fist-passing over the course of the summer by teams whose sole priority appeared to be rigid adherence to a safety first policy, it was certainly refreshing to see kick-passing reincarnated.

Over the course of the Ulster and All-Ireland championships we have endured games in which the ball has been treated by many players as if it were nothing more than an irritant given their propensity for moving it on via an ultra-safe lateral hand-pass.

This of course serves to slow down play, inhibit flair and further inculcate a defensive philosophy.

As well as sparking hope that foot-passing could become a feature of the sport again, the Dublin v Kerry tie further cemented the theory that championship football is definitely a 20-man game now.