26 Sept 2022

Brendan Murphy: GAA supporters frustrated with defensive style of Gaelic football

The Carlow footballer's weekly column

Confey and Leixlip Ladies set up league final clash

Carlow footballer Brendan Murphy writes a weekly column for Carlow Live

With the 2018 All Ireland Senior Football Championship at the semi final stage, you can’t help but question was it a good championship?

Realistically, probably not. For me the only real highlight was Carlow beating Kildare and to a lesser extent Waterford turning over Wexford in the qualifiers.

Apart from that, it has been a predictable enough campaign. Compare it to the All Ireland Hurling Championship and there’s no comparison; hurling is the real winner in 2018, hands down!

Dublin cruised to another Leinster crown, Kerry demolished an unbelievably poor Cork side to claim yet another Munster title, Galway scraped to a Connacht title and Donegal outmuscled Fermanagh in the Ulster decider.  

The worrying thing about the football championship is the current style of defensive play which every team are trying to perfect in order to make themselves a really hard team to break down.

Talking to GAA supporters around the country and even here in Boston, they are becoming unbelievably frustrated with it and the few I have spoken to claim that it is not a patch on the football that was played ten plus years ago.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not against it but from the outside looking in, it looks terrible, a lot of lateral ball movement, with teams holding on to the ball just to run down the clock, killing the game with their ball control.

In Carlow we have been fortunate enough to have, for me, one of the best coaches in the country in Steven Poacher take us over.

Yes, Carlow do set up defensively but there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to develop the attacking side of their game too.

In time, I think Carlow will master that offensive/defensive style of play and I fully believe that they can get promoted to Division 2 of the National Football League and really push on in the championship.

However, is football as enjoyable to play as it was years ago? For me probably not but we just have to accept where the game is at this current time.  

Too many pundits are giving out about it, constantly criticising players, managers and their style of play.

I spoke to a good friend of mine recently about  the state of football at the minute and he said ‘Murph, too many of the pundits are from the 70s, 80s and 90s, they don’t understand the tactics involved now because back then it was 6 on 6 in the backs and forwards, those days are gone, fresh pundits/reporters are needed now, players who are only recently retired who understand the defensive setup that most teams are adopting right now ’.  

I had never thought about it that way before but I have to agree with him completely.

I think people just need to get rid of the negative mindset they have towards football now and maybe sit down and watch a game from a different point of view.

Watch for how disciplined teams are to get into the defensive set up immediately when the other team are on the attack, watch how they move as a unit to prevent the opposition from finding gaps in their defence.

Then, when they have the ball watch how they attack, how hard they run in order to support the man on the ball, how they remain composed on the ball in order to break the line and puncture the other teams defence, hopefully waiting for the perfect opportunity to score.

Yes football has changed, a lot of people don’t agree with it but at the end of the day football is a massive part of so many peoples lives in Ireland and abroad, love the game, don’t hate it!

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