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McErlain joins dissenting voices over 'frustrating' hand-pass rule change


Thumbs down: Damian McErlain is unhappy with hand-pass rule
Thumbs down: Damian McErlain is unhappy with hand-pass rule
John Campbell

By John Campbell

It is becoming increasingly likely that the planned review of the five new rules which are currently on trial in gaelic football could morph into a robust forum.

With the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup only beginning to hot up and the early-season competitions in the other provinces still to get off the ground, there are indications that the concern which managers share on the rules, and the hand-pass rule in particular, could lead to a re-think in advance of the Allianz League.

Several Ulster bosses - including Malachy O'Rourke (Monaghan), Declan Bonner (Donegal), Rory Gallagher (Fermanagh), Mickey Harte (Tyrone) and Kieran McGeeney - have all expressed grave reservations about the value of the hand-pass rule in particular which dictates that only three successive passes of this nature can be made.

The latest dissenting voice is that of Derry manager Damian McErlain who believes that the hand-pass rule can prove a source of "real frustration" for players in the heat of games.

McErlain watched his side lose to Tyrone in their opening Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup tie and believes that the rules will make things difficult for players.

"We played Carlow in a challenge game before we met Tyrone and there was a bit of frustration in that game but there was even more confusion against Tyrone in the McKenna Cup," said McErlain.

"It caught both teams out on a number of occasions and the most frustrating thing was there was generally something about to happen each time the move was blown up by the referee. That happened on several occasions much to the annoyance of players."

It was the same for both teams, McErlain agreed, with play being called back.

"When fatigue sets in, it is difficult enough for players to concentrate on the speed of the game, rather than having to concentrate on the amount of passes that have been given - the hand pass rule is a non-runner whatever about the others," insisted McErlain.

GAA president John Horan has promised that an in-depth analysis of the initial impact of the new rules will be undertaken before the start of the league and it would appear that there will be no shortage of contributors to this either directly or indirectly.

Meanwhile, Down hurlers booked their place in the Conor McGurk Cup final by beating Fermanagh by 3-24 to 2-8.

Down won the competition two years ago and this team looks capable of replicating that success again.

They led Fermanagh by 1-14 to 2-5 at half-time before stepping up a further gear after the break to cruise to a 19-point victory that will surely bolster their confidence.

Meanwhile, the Dublin team which beat Derry in the 1958 All-Ireland football final were honoured at a function at which the current side received the Leinster championship medals which they won this year.

Captained by the legendary Kevin Heffernan, who went on to become one of the greatest managers in the history of the association, the Dubs won their 16th Sam Maguire crown after defeating the Oak Leaf men by 2-12 to 1-9 before a crowd of 73,371 at Croke Park in a thrilling contest.

In Saturday's annual Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars football challenge which took place in Pairc Barrog, Kilbarrack Dublin defeated the Dub Stars by 3-19 to 1-14.

Fingallians sharpshooter Oisin Lynch top-scored with 2-3 for the victors in a master-class of finishing that could see him step up in 2019.

Belfast Telegraph


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