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Massive Frustration In Ladies Football Over Rule 'Spoiling The Game'

Massive Frustration In Ladies Football Over Rule 'Spoiling The Game'
By PJ Browne
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The Kerry ladies football team are now in the third year of an S&C programme which has helped them rise to Division 1 of the National League. Like so many other teams in the women's game, they've hit a wall of frustration created by a rule which states there "shall be no deliberate bodily contact".

Players are more physically powerful than ever, but many feel they can't put the accelerator to the floor and use their strength in the tackle.

Some referees apply the rule, others do not. Whether the rule is applied can vary from one end of a competition to the other, and also across the various levels of the inter-county game.

"Coming from Division 2, we've played games and I'm taken aback by what's a free - things would not be called for frees in senior championship," Kerry captain Anna Galvin told Balls at the launch of the All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship on Tuesday.

"When we step up to senior championship, that's one thing I feel we're missing: We not as used to the physicality that's allowed. [The physicality] is brilliant, we love it.

"We just work really hard on it in training. We're really physical in training, and the lads let things go.

"Some referees let it go, and it's brilliant, and the games are brilliant to watch. Some of them are the blowing whistle on the smallest of things. It's not the same across games, and that's very frustrating.


10 April 2022; Anna Galvin of Kerry in action against Eve Lavery of Armagh during the Lidl Ladies Football National League Division 2 Final between Armagh and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

"The ticking rule for fouls is inconsistent as well. Some referees tick for quite significant fouls; some are ticking for every little tug of a jersey. That's a yellow card when you have three of them.


"There's just no consistency, and it's very frustrating. I would love to see a bit more physicality. We're in a good position now with our three years of S&C behind us.

"We put the work in. I don't know why it is [that the rule hasn't been changed]. Do they not think we're able to take the hits? Do they think we're not strong enough? We're putting in the work, immense amounts of S&C - we can take the hits, we can give the hits, and we want to be able to do it."

'Ladies football isn't the same as it was a decade ago'

The need for the rule to change is a drum Mick Bohan has been banging throughout his time as Dublin manager.


"The game isn't the same as it was a decade ago, I think back to the last time I was involved in 2003, I even looked at old pictures and the jerseys [are] hanging off them. They look like babies," he said.


"Look at them now. When I look at them every evening at training, the condition they're in... We want them to go out there and play at 100 miles an hour and the minute there's a bit of contact, there's a free? Doesn't make sense. It just doesn't make sense. And it's frustrating.

"It doesn't have to be a major change. I understand that people don't want it the same as the lads' game - I don't want to see it the same as the lads' game, and I think at the moment, with the mass defence and all of that - and if you're particularly physically strong, it's very difficult to break those down - I don't want to see the game go like that.


"It's fast and it's furious, but there has to be some amount of contact allowed. I just think we need to look at it a little bit better."

7 May 2022; Dublin manager Mick Bohan speaks to the Dublin team before the TG4 Leinster Senior Ladies Football Championship Round 2 match between Dublin and Meath at Parnell Park in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Bohan said he doesn't know if the rule will be changed any time soon.

"I've tried to try to speak on it," he continued.

"I think sometimes the LGFA see that when you're speaking out that you're actually giving out. That's not the point. If you don't listen to people who were in the arena, well then who do you listen to? I'm telling you what I'm listening to from my group, but I'm also telling you what I'm seeing as a coach. I think it would be a better spectacle. The tackle is still ill-defined.


"If you speak about the tackle, every single referee that I speak to has a different interpretation of the tackle. And I know, coming into the summer series and an All-Ireland final, the rules will not be the same as they were in Parnell Park [during the Leinster Championship] or Navan [during the National League].

"They will not be the same because they won't allow that lack of contact in front of 50,000 people. You can't have that then, right? It should be consistent - and that makes sense, doesn't it? So that's not moaning or giving out, this is the spectacle that people want to see, let them see it. Just a small tweak in the tackle. The whole thing stated is you can't make contact until the ball is released, even when the ball is released and you make contact, they're giving frees."

Mayo captain Kathryn Sullivan understands Bohan's frustration.

"I always hear Mick on about that. I completely agree," she said.

"The way the game has gone now, the S&C, the physiques, the strength in players now... There is no consistency. Every referee is different.

"It just needs to be corrected soon because it's spoiling the game. If we're doing all this S&C, something has to give."

See Also: 'I Made My Debut Vs London In 2011, A Dark Day For Fermanagh Football'

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