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Thursday 14 December 2017

Kick-out rule may work to Dublin's favour in the end

Cluxton will relish the challenge says Matthews

Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton kicks the ball out against Kildare in the Leinster SFC Final in July. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton kicks the ball out against Kildare in the Leinster SFC Final in July. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Dublin's former goalkeeping coach Gary Matthews feels special congress got it wrong last weekend, if their motivation for making it compulsory for kick-outs to pass the 20-metre line was to hinder Dublin.

'Motion 21', which also obliges that kick-outs must travel 13 metres, breezed through Congress with 82% of the 142 votes while Dublin delegate Mick Seavers was the only attendee to vocally oppose the change.

Yet Matthews, who worked as coach to Stephen Cluxton and the other Dublin goalkeepers between 2005 and 2012 reckons the application of such limitations will still favour the team with the best restarts - ie. Dublin.

"It's a whole new challenge and a whole new process for Stephen for next year," Matthews told the Herald.

"Realistically, lots of kicks are starting to go longer anyway. Obviously the mark has helped to encourage that.

"But to turn around and say the ball has to go outside the 21, that's not really a big deal."

Eleven of Cluxton's 13 second half kick-outs in last month's All-Ireland final wouldn't have been allowed under the new rule after Mayo won a string of longer first half restarts.

Target

"Sometimes when I looked at those short kick-outs I thought it was probably just the first ball he saw," Matthews observed.

"If you were still there you could say to Stephen there was a better option at the '45, he just didn't see it."

Matthews says the trend towards shorter kick-outs in recent years is in direct proportion to the value placed on the speed of restarts.

Under Pat Gilroy, he explained, the target was to retain possession as high up the pitch as possible.

"The key words are 'retaining possession' and then the next priority is 'as high up the pitch as possible'.

"So if you get an easy out from your corner-back but you have a similarly high percentage chance at the '45, you've got to go for the longer one."

Since Jim Gavin took over, Matthews observed, a higher currency has been placed on the speed with which the kick-out is taken after the ball has gone dead - hence the higher proportion of shorter kick-outs, particularly at inter-county level.

However, Matthews still believes Cluxton will have an advantage under the new rules due to his kicking technique.

"One of the biggest strength that Stephen has isn't that he can put these balls into the pockets," he noted "it's his ability to take one short step back from the ball and deliver with the same power, accuracy and distance as the fella who takes five, six, seven steps of a run-up.

"The fella that is doing the seven steps run-up is broadcasting to every player on the pitch and every person in the stadium where this ball is going. So that's the thing where you've got to work on - the strength.

"He's (Cluxton) got lots of strength from working on his kick-outs constantly before and after training.

"But the goalkeeper that doesn't need momentum to drive the ball - that has power in his legs - he can pick out those runs out on the '45 much better."

In his role with various Dublin teams, Matthews has used a weighted ball to increase the distance of his goalkeeper's kicks but equally, he envisages a greater level of responsibility placed on outfield players to generate space in which to receive the ball.

Best option

"The first thing any goalkeeper is trained to do now when they have a kick-out is identify the best option and execute it," he explained.

"What it's going to do is change the role of the corner backs in the kick-out. They're going to have to get involved in making pockets of space for somebody else.

"So maybe they'll come narrow or maybe they'll change their runs instead of running towards the end line.

"They could be more lateral runs or they could be between the full-back or the centre-back.

"The room has condensed a bit. But we're working on our kicking strength. We work with this weighted ball and we're looking to add15 to 20 yards of length and take a second or two off the speed of the delivery.

"So we're extending it out the other end. They're taking away the first 20 metres of space for the kick-out but we're adding something at the far end.

"The only thing it will affect will be the corner backs more than causing goalkeepers any problems."

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