Handpassing is one of the core skills of hurling.
Handpassing is one of the core skills of hurling. 

Correct hand-passing a focus for hurling referees

By John Harrington

Referees have been instructed to continue clamping down on incorrect hand-passing in this year’s All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship.

The ball is hand-passed a lot more frequently in the modern game than it was in the past and often by players in congested areas of the field who are desperate to get the pass away as quickly as possible.

National Referees Development Committee Chairman, Willie Barrett, believes that’s why the ball is now being fouled more often as players sometimes resort to a throwing rather than a striking action.

“I think it is because there's more hand-passing going on,” said Barrett. “And I think it's also because there are more players in a group challenging for the one ball.

“There's more challenging the individual who has the ball. Therefore it's difficult for that player to get the ball away in his hand. And when a player is going through on goal to ensure that he has correctly hand-passed the ball.

“But we've looked at videos throughout the national league of players who have been penalised and players situations that have not been dealt with properly as regards hand-passing.

“We reiterated that message to our referees in a seminar a couple of weeks ago.”

Willie Barrett, Chairman of the GAA's National Referee Development Committee.
Willie Barrett, Chairman of the GAA's National Referee Development Committee.

Barrett does not agree that by demanding players to complete a technically correct hand-pass that referees are slowing down the game and penalising those have perfected the skill of getting a hand-pass away quickly.

"They're doing it rapidly alright but there is also a situation where they are doing it in such a way that it's not a clear strike,” said Barrett.

“And in some cases we have proved in the national league, certainly in one game there was four penalisations of incorrect hand-passes. And I notice they were all in the first half. In the second-half we had none.

“So I think that we're trying to get the message across that clearly the refs want to see a striking action otherwise it's a foul hand-pass.

“I wouldn't accept that we're slowing down the game. You obviously can't ignore a foul in the interest of keeping the play flowing. If a player is going to the ball and puts it on the hurley three times, that's a foul.

“And if anyone is saying you should ignore a foul, there's no difference between catching a ball three times and the incorrect hand-pass. they're both technical fouls and I don't accept it's slowing the game.

“The onus is on the player to correctly execute the hand-pass and then nobody is slowing down the game.”