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Paul Grimley: tackle issue must be sorted out

By Martin Breheny

A bleak future for Gaelic football has been painted by one of the game's most journeyed coaches, who has called on the GAA authorities to prioritise addressing what he feels is a serious malaise.

Armagh coach Paul Grimley has asked the GAA to establish a forum where inter-county managers and team captains can come together and get a consensus on where the game is going.

Grimley — who has also coached Cavan, Kildare, Monaghan and Meath over the last decade before returning to the Orchard County at the start of this season — agrees with director-general Paraic Duffy's report that football is suffering badly as a spectacle.

Grimley — on the backroom staff for Armagh’s 2002 All-Ireland win — believes the game will be “cleansed almost to extinction” and argues that blanket defence is a by-product of the absence of a properly defined tackle.

“If things continue, the league will be like the Railway Cups in a few years — there'll be no-one going. I hear it all the time, people saying they're just not bothered going,” he said.

“Figures look like they're holding up between reduced prices and packaging, but I'm really concerned about the direction Gaelic football is heading.”

Grimley believes players and coaches deserve a greater voice when it comes to addressing rule issues.

He lays the blame for massed defence — which Duffy references in his report — on the tackle as it exists.

“Why does a coach flood his defence with so many numbers? Because it provides security that he can't get otherwise. If you can't tackle forcefully in one-to-one situations, then you need numbers,” he said.

“The defender must be given more leeway.

“The only two forms of tackle that are straightforward are the block and the shoulder-to-shoulder, but you see very little of that any more,” he added.

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