GAA Football

Backpass ban won't change defensive tactics says Rory Beggan

Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan in action against Cavan during the National League. Picture by Philip Walsh

RORY Beggan says he doesn’t believe the proposal to ban goalkeepers from being involved in open play will have any impact on whether teams press up or not.

In the Allstar goalkeeper’s home clubrooms in Scotstown, GAA president John Horan revealed on Tuesday that a proposal to outlaw any passes to ‘keepers in open play could make the agenda for Special Congress later this year.

Beggan, along with the likes of Tyrone’s Niall Morgan and Graham Brody (Laois), have led the way in terms of goalkeepers having a greater involvement in open play across recent seasons.

But Horan put forward the idea of the ban, arguing that passing the ball to goalkeepers had become a “release valve” that was putting opposition teams off pressing higher up the pitch.

Naturally Beggan is against the idea, but says that if it is to happen the GAA should at least trial the idea during pre-season competitions.

“The way goalkeeping’s gone, more kids are wanting to do goals. That’s down to the exposure ‘keepers are getting and being a part of the team and part of the play.

“I don’t think it necessarily has a negative impact on games too. Teams are smart, they trust their goalkeeper and use it to get the play switched or play up the field a bit further.

“It’s not the reason why a lot of people are giving out about Gaelic football. It’s something they feel a need to change but if you talk to any goalkeeper from the 32 counties, they wouldn’t be in favour of it I’d imagine.

“There’s points to it and points against it. I was chatting to a few ones I work with in the sporting area in Monaghan, and they’d feel there’s more positives to the goalkeeper being allowed to play a bit of ball than negatives.

“I understand if teams have a high press and it goes back to the goalkeeper, it takes the sting out of it. But I find it’s entertaining too, watching the other ‘keepers doing it and thinking you’d maybe get him sucked out the field a wee bit and then go at him.

“You’ll end up you’re just there to kick the ball out. I saw there on Twitter earlier someone saying you’d just be like the kicker in American Football, just come on the field when there’s a kick to take and go back off again.

“Trial it through the McKenna Cup if they feel the need to have a trial, but I don’t think it’s going to change the fact that teams are going to drop off.

”Some teams have it in their gameplan to drop off anyway, and I don’t think a team not being able to go back to a goalkeeper will necessary mean that teams aren’t going to drop back.

“I think you’ll still have teams that will rely on that system just to crowd numbers back. I don’t think it’s got anything to do with the ball going back to the goalkeeper.”

The inter-county season is over for Beggan following Monaghan’s early exit, and by the time they come back, the life of a goalkeeper will have changed regardless of whether the backpass proposal gets through.

From the start of 2020, all kickouts will be taken from the 20-metre line rather than the 13’. That was the case during this year’s National League, and although the rule was passed as a permanent change early last year, it wasn’t in play for this year’s Championship.

While Beggan says there were a combination of factors such as the weather conditions and teams paying more respect to Monaghan after their 2018 run, he feels life will be more difficult from here on.

“I was chatting to a couple of boys about the kickouts, and it seemed that it was a wee bit more claustrophobic in a way, not just for goalkeepers but for players trying to receive the ball.

“It felt like ‘keepers were more on top of the defenders, and you weren’t getting them away as quick.

“My execution and decision-making on the kickout mightn’t have been great at times. I found teams pressed us a lot better, and that’s maybe down to a wee bit more organisation and work on our kickouts.

“I’d take the good points from it, of teams respecting us as a county and respecting me as a goalkeeper to try and nullify the strengths of your team.

“The league is a false reading with the league and us only really getting back to hard work in January. I didn’t find it as bad in the championship as we did in the league in terms of teams nullifying our kickouts.

“It was a lot harder in the league this year than in league or championship last year, especially against teams we’d played last year.

“Our kickout strategies didn’t come from a winter, they came from five winters with Malachy. It wasn’t just built in a day.

“We bore the fruits of all the work last year, but that’s when teams copped on a wee bit more and put more pressure on our kickouts.

“You could tell during the league, times we were finding it a wee bit hard. It could take a wee bit more work with a new manager coming in and adjusting the 20-yard line.

“It’s even just other players adjusting and reading your kickouts. It’ll take a bit of work.”

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