By Patrick Morrison
SO, after last weekend’s round of games we have our All-Ireland final pairing. Galway versus Kerry in a repeat of the 2000 final, a game the Kingdom prevailed in.
Both teams’ semi-final encounters were of a very similar nature with teams setting up in their defensive structures while trying to break down their opposition’s system with an offensive plan.
In both games there was an incident that has stuck with that I would like to clarify for people. Both incidents were central to the outcome of the game and as such caused quite a stir on the social media platforms on Saturday and Sunday evening.
The first incident is regarding the second goal conceded by Derry against Galway. It occurred as Derry custodian Odhrán Lynch had joined the Derry attack and was in the Galway defensive third providing and extra man for their attack.
Derry were dispossessed and Galway ended up scoring into an open goal, a score that effectively ended Derry’s chances of winning that game. Cue social media backlash!
The online platforms exploded with tweets and posts about goalkeepers and more specifically how they should not be leaving their goal to join the play. Some were calling for rule changes to restrict the goalkeeper to their crease, a ridiculous and dangerous precedent that could be set there.
People castigated Lynch for conceding the goal, but the fact of the matter is goals are not conceded by individuals, goals are conceded by teams.
While Lynch had joined the attack, his Derry teammates got caught in possession when a simple pass to the two unmarked Derry players would have been the better option. When overturned, the Galway player breaking out of defence was first not tracked and then not swarmed once he gained possession of the football. Finally, the Galway goal-scorer was being marked by a defender who was five metres in front with his back turned to the ball.
For me it is very easy and too simplistic to say that it was the goalkeeper’s fault for the goal being conceded especially as he was not involved in the loss of possession. That being said, he did not help himself by jogging back toward his goal as play was dangerously developing toward his goal.
No doubt he was fatigued from making it up the pitch before having to come back down it. Still if a team is going to employ this tactic, they must ensure that provisions are in place for incidents when they are overturned in possession such as this and the goalkeeper must ensure that they can retreat to the goal ‘toute suite.’
Personally, I do not see the issues with the goalkeeper joining the play. It adds excitement, drama, and edge of the seat panic when mistakes happen. Is this not why we watch our beloved games? To be entertained. I myself coach the ‘fly goalie’ tactic regularly with teams but the most important factor is that a team can only play the tactic to the comfort of the goalkeeper.
The goalkeeper will determine how far they feel they can go without being caught out. That may only be to their 21-metre line but that’s all that should be expected of them then.
My second factor is more traditional. When choosing your goalkeeper, they must be judged on their goalkeeping ability and not their ability to play outfield. Goalkeepers selected purely on their outfield ability will eventually be found out and usually in the most catastrophic of ways. Catastrophic both for the team but also for the individual themselves.
The second incident involved Kerry’s Seanie O’Shea and Dublin goalkeeper Evan Comerford. O’Shea kicked the winning score with a monstrous 55-metre free in the dying embers of the game. Some people had argued that he should not have been on the field to take the free due to the collision he had with the Dublin ‘keeper during the Kerry penalty.
After Comerford saved O’Shea’s penalty it spilled loose for a rebound. O’Shea was quick to pounce and duly drew down onto the ball. Comerford was quick to react and smothered O’Shea’s second attempt.
As a consequence, his left foot came through and made contact with Comerford’s face. Again, cue social media uproar. Fans up and down the country claiming a red card, violent play and even some claiming it was with intent. Some of the more outlandish comments made me think “if only these people were more vocal about things that really matter!”
The very first rule I teach goalkeeping especially to young goalkeepers is that ‘goalkeeping hurts!’ Everything we do involves putting our bodies into situations of danger it is power for the course. In simple terms the description of a goalkeeper’s mindset can be summarised by one sentence. When a live grenade is dropped and everyone is diving for cover, the goalkeeper is the one diving onto the grenade to save their teammates. This is exactly what Comerford did for the penalty rebound.
Seanie O’Shea had every right to play the rebounded ball. Comerford had a duty to throw his body around it to save it. Two players going hard for the same ball will inevitably create physical contact.
There is a rule in American Football called incidental contact. Every player must be positioned somewhere on the field, standing or moving. When they are reviewing plays and specifically penalty fouls the video referees must take into account the momentum of the player making the foul.
If the foul was created by the momentum of the player attempting to tackle then it is ruled as incidental contact i.e. – contact that cannot be reasonably avoided. For me, the momentum of O’Shea’s follow-up is what carries him into Comerford and results in his contact with his face and so, for me, this was a perfect example of incidental contact.
Both semi-final games at the weekend served up two magnificent treats. One a tentative tactical chess battle filled with match-ups, systems and strategic ingenuity and the other was also a tactical battle but one that was more free-flowing, free-scoring and gripping right to the end. We now look forward to our showpiece in two weeks’ time!
Email: pmgoalkeeping @hotmail.com