Tyrone's Rory Brennan: hand-pass rule stifling attacking football
Tyrone’s Rory Brennan has warned that attacking football is being stilfed by the experimental hand-pass rule.
And he claims the restriction on hand-passing is encouraging defensive strategies and rewarding negativity.
Brennan, himself a defender, insists the new regulation must be axed once the pre-season competitions have been completed.
“When you’re coming up with a slick move and you’ve used your three passes and you’re going to make that incisive fist pass, and the next thing it’s turned over, it’s hard to break down a team that sets up so defensively,” he said.
Play was halted six times in the first half alone of Tyrone’s Dr McKenna Cup clash with Fermanagh on Wednesday night, leading to frustration on the part of players and supporters.
“It definitely was frustrating and I’m sure it was frustrating to watch from a supporter’s point of view.
“It suits defensive teams, because the hand-pass rule makes them difficult to break down.
“It’s definitely going to have to be reviewed at the end of the McKenna Cup. If anything, it encourages defensive play.”
A drab game ended in a six points win and a place in the semi-finals for the Red Hands, but they took some time to prise open the packed Erne defence.
“It wasn’t the best spectacle, first half. Fermanagh parked the bus, so to speak, and its hard to break down,” said Brennan.
“We just had to be patient and try to break them down, and going in at half-time level, we were disappointed.
“But we re-grouped at half-time, went out and tried to play with a wee bit more width and break them down that way. And we pulled away nicely at the end.”
Tyrone will meet Derry for the second time in this season’s McKenna Cup, and Brennan is certain they will be more difficult opponents in Sunday’s semi-final at the Athletic Grounds than they were at Celtic Park before Christmas, when the Red Hands scored a comfortable victory.
“It will be a different feel to it, coming closer to the National League. They’ll have another weeks’ training under their belt and they will definitely more competitive than the first day out.
“With Slaughtneil not playing in Ulster this year, and their players coming back and training with the group from early on will be a boost to them.
“They’re a young side and they have done well in the Minors and U21s this last couple of year, so those players are starting to break through. They’ll definitely be more competitive.”
With a tough NFL opener against Kerry at Killarney at the end of the month, Tyrone are keen to remain in competitive action for as long as possible, and an extended McKenna Cup run is a priority.
“Its’ well known that Tyrone don’t play challenge games, so the more competitive games under your belt you have the better, so you’d be looking to get past Sunday’s game and maybe get another game as well.
“There’s nothing better than games as preparation coming into the Kerry game in the first round of the National League.”