Puke hurling has arrived – Brolly
LOVERS of Gaelic football have watched with dismay over the last decade as the blanket defensive method has taken a grip on proceedings. We have wondered whether the game we once knew could somehow be rescued.
The decisive moment came during last year’s semi-final between Donegal and Dublin.
With 13 Donegal outfield players gathered inside their own half and neither team able to score, the slow hand-clapping started, then swelled to a chorus of booing that swept the stadium like a Mexican wave.
When Dublin – not knowing quite how they managed it – stumbled to victory, it was seen by some as a vindication of traditional virtues. Pat Spillane – appearing not to understand that Dublin were themselves playing a 12 man defence – articulated the generally held view that Donegal got exactly what they deserved and that they would, “Never win anything playing like that.”
In the aftermath of the game, the public and the media mounted a sustained attack on Donegal in general and Jim McGuinness in particular that felt like a last ditch attempt to turn him away from this abomination.
Twelve months on and that fanciful notion is dead. The blanket defensive counter-attacking strategy is more widespread than ever and the new standard bearers – Donegal – are marching relentlessly towards an All-Ireland, humbling superpowers as they go.
As they have watched Gaelic football shiver under the tyranny of the 12 man defence, hurling folk have shaken their heads and smugly assured us it would never happen to them. They boast that there are no tactics in the game, apart from pull hard into your man and let every ball be a funeral.
A blanket-defensive model would never work. In fact it would be a serious crime to contaminate the world’s greatest field sport with such a poison.
On that basis, the Garda may get a set of cuffs ready for Anthony Cunningham. If you thought to yourself during last Sunday’s hurling final that Galway’s game plan bore more than a passing resemblance to the Donegal method, you are not alone.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published on Thursday September 13. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or you can purchase the online version – for only 90p – by clicking here