Fenton sees positives in experimental rules for Gaelic Football
By John Harrington
Brian Fenton will reserve his full judgement on the proposed new rule changes for Gaelic Football until he sees them in action, but for now he believes they’re generally positive.
The one that could directly impact him the most as a midfielder is the one that stipulates teams can only have two players each between the two ’45 yard lines when a goalkeeper kicks the ball out.
That would potentially encourage fielding duels in the middle of the pitch which is an aspect of the game that the Dublin midfielder has always enjoyed.
“Look, if there's a high ball there to be won I'll hopefully challenge in the best way I can,” said Fenton. “I love that stuff! I used to watch it - Ciaran Whelan was the idol, you'd look at Darragh O Sé.
“High fielding and high catches just lift the stadium, they lift everyone. Players talk about it, they lift momentum. I'm always trying my best and working with the goalkeepers to try and practice that.
“The new rules, I'm not sure. Do you put fast, small guys in there who can break the space because it's a lot of space or do you put four big lads in there and just live off the break?
“I don't know how it's going to work. If it's tried in the league, it'll be interesting. I think new rules in general, are positive. They're trying to improve the game as a spectacle and as a skills-based game.
“We'll see how it goes, we'll try it out. If there's a high ball there to be won, I'll try my best!”
The experimental rule change that could have the biggest impact on the game is the one that proposes limiting the number of consecutive hand-passes to three before a team has to then kick the ball.
Fenton is still getting his head around how that will work in a live-game situation, but believes anything that encourages more kick-passing in the game is worth trying.
“Yeah, you're watching games back and trying to visualise it. I actually re-watched the All-Ireland final back last week and the new rules had just been released.
“I was trying to imagine, 'Oh Jesus, he might have to kickpass it now...' It's a funny one.
“If you're trying to break down a defensive team in particular, there's a lot of hand-passing. If you're trying to keep possession or control a certain part of the game, there's a lot of hand-passing naturally.
“I'm all for kick-passing as well, I love it. I think it can just completely split a team open. If there's a rule to kick-pass, I think it's a good thing. Maybe limiting the hand-pass to three might be a bit much but to promote the kick-pass is a very positive one.
“For us, as Dublin footballers, we don't go out saying, 'Just hand-pass the ball, just hand-pass the ball.' It's always just play it as you see it and if the kick is on, kick the bleedin' ball. Yeah, I don't know. I think it will be interesting to see how they all go.
“I'm not sure if all of them will get in, or any of them will get in, but look anything to promote the game as a spectacle and as a skills-based game...would be great I think.”