Will a new back-pass motion put the pressure on GAA goalkeepers?

Will a new back-pass motion put the pressure on GAA goalkeepers?
Cork keeper Michéal Aodh Martin against Down at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

THERE’S a motion at next week’s Congress that won’t affect either Cork footballing keeper, Micheál Aodh Martin, or his Tipperary counterpart, Evan Comerford, for the moment, but it could soon.

The Raheens club, in Kildare, has an interesting motion, calling for a ban on back-passes to a goalkeeper from a kick-out. In other words, the player receiving the kick-out cannot pass it directly back to the keeper.

The penalty would be the awarding of a free from the position the keeper receives the pass. If it’s inside the 13m line, then the free is from the 13m line opposite where he touched the ball.

The motion has a twin objective of making the goalie more reluctant to go short and also to encourage opponents to press up on kick-outs, thereby creating more space in the centre of the pitch. Retaining possession from the restart is uppermost in the thinking of all management teams.

The option of going long for a 50-50 tussle in the middle of the field is sometimes considered too risky, hence the high number of attempted short restarts.

Of course, they are fraught with danger, too, even more so than the chance of coughing up possession in the middle third, as ’keepers have found to their cost, when picking the ball out of the back of their net.

Cork are expected to name their team on Thursday night for the trip to Thurles, for round four of the league on Saturday night, at 7pm.

Kevin Crowley’s injury in the last game, against Down, has been diagnosed as a fractured shoulder, which doesn’t require surgery, but does rule him out of the rest of the campaign.

It happened late-on and resulted in Cork completing the game with 13 players, having used their full allocation of substitutions and having Sean White dismissed on a second yellow card.

The Millstreet defender has been ever-present to-date, helping Cork collect victories over Offaly, Leitrim, and Down to sit top of the table, on six points.

Crowley has been plagued with shoulder injuries in recent years, twice undergoing surgery and missing large portions of seasons.

Donal O'Hare of Down in action against Kevin Crowley, left, and Seán Powter of Cork. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Donal O'Hare of Down in action against Kevin Crowley, left, and Seán Powter of Cork. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

He joins the Douglas pair, Kevin Flahive and Nathan Walsh, on the wounded list for the remainder of the campaign, which includes home games against Derry and Louth and a visit to Longford on the last day of the scheduled season.

The options for coach, Ronan McCarthy, include Sam Ryan or Paul Ring filling in at corner-back, or tweaking the defence to include Cian Kiely, or maybe U20 graduate Sean Meehan, in the half-back line. James Loghrey, who has yet to appear this season, could also be in the frame, depending on his fitness.

Fit-again Killian O’Hanlon, who recovered from injury to help CIT claim the Trench Cup, gives Cork another option at midfield, where captain, Ian Maguire, and newcomer, Brian Hartnett, combined for the last two outings.

It’s expected Brian Hurley and Mark Collins will be in contention for places for the first time in Division 3. Hurley has yet to figure this year, in either the league or McGrath Cup, while Collins played the first-half of the McGrath Cup tie against Tipp.

Cork won that game, played on the second day of the new year in Mallow, by 3-19 to 0-14, when Michael Hurley helped himself to 3-4 from play, during his 50 minutes on the pitch.

Both sides will be changed considerably in personnel, with Cork likely to have Tadhg Corkery, Tom Clancy, Hartnett, and Collins.

Tipp are set to have only a handful, as well: Comerford, centre-back Robbie Kiely, midfielder Steven O’Brien, and corner-forward Liam Boland, who kicked 0-7 that night, all bar one from frees.


SATURDAY: NFL Division 1: Dublin v Donegal, Croke Park.

Division 2: Fermanagh v Cavan, Brewster Park.

Division 3: Down v Longford, Newry; Tipperary v Cork, Thurles.

Division 4: Sligo v Waterford, Markievicz Park, 2pm. All others at 7pm.

SUNDAY: DIVISION 1: Kerry v Meath, Killarney, 1pm; Galway v Tyrone, Tuam Stadium; Monaghan v Mayo, Clones.

DIVISION 2: Clare v Laois, Ennis; Westmeath v Armagh; Kildare v Roscommon, Newbridge, 2.30.

DIVISION 3: Derry v Louth, Owenbeg; Leitrim v Offaly, Carrick-on-Shannon.

Division 4: Wexford v London, Wexford Park, 12 noon; Limerick v Wicklow, Rathkeale; Antrim v Carlow, Belfast, 2.30. All 2pm, unless stated.

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