Field day for big full-forwards – Brolly
GEORGE McGee of Magilligan, Derry and Ulster was a full back of the old school. He wore a peaked cap when he played and it is said that when someone made him angry, he took it off and handed it to his goalie.
One Sunday the regular Magilligan goalie didn’t turn up and just before throw in, 17-year-old Seamus McLaughlin was press ganged from the crowd. As they were walking out onto the pitch, George took him aside.
‘Young McLaughlin, if the ball comes into the square its yours. Anything else that comes in, I‘ll take care of it.’
At that, George rubbed his hands and headed into battle. In those days, the square was a battle ground. Every ball launched in high was an event.
With the new square ball rule coming into effect last Sunday, we are back to the future. It is likely to have a significant impact on the championship and a positive influence on the way the game is played. Full backs beware.
Galway stationed midfielder Paul Conroy on the edge of the square last Sunday and commenced to deliver long accurate ball in on top of him. It was reminiscent of those early Kilkenny blitzkriegs that have become part of the fabric of Irish life.
The high ball was driven in, the centre half forward and corner forwards timed their runs and sprinted towards goal as the ball was in the air. Then it was either knocked down to them by Conroy as they rushed in on goal or the two footed full forward took possession himself.
Either way, this simple tactic devastated Roscommon.
Twelve months of working on defensive systems went out the window in 12 minutes, by which time Galway were 2- 5 to 0-1 up and the game was over. The other striking thing about it was how enjoyable it was to watch.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published Thursday May 24. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or read it online here for just 90p