THERE has been a common theme to the successful Gaelic football teams in the news the recently.
This would include the Dublin, Nemo Rangers and Corofin senior teams. Not only teams who have won many trophies but also teams that leave a good impression on our game.
The game has changed but still those sides will look to use the kick pass where possible. Even new Ulster champions Kilcoo while setting up more defensively, still use the kick pass effectively with ex-Down player Conor Laverty providing an excellent focal point up front.
Mickey Moran’s teams always play attractive football in fairness. To be the best over a long period yes, a team needs to evolve both individually and collectively. Yes be tactically flexible as otherwise a team will become predictable.
Still this doesn’t mean a team now dismisses totally what made them good in the first place. Due to the popularity of the blanket defence and sweepers, it will not always be possible to kick early to the inside forwards.
Teams now have become better holding possession, creating space and ultimately still convert enough scores to win games. This was certainly the case with Dublin as harsh but valuable lessons were learned from their All-Ireland semi-final loss to Donegal in 2014. The swashbuckling direct game was replaced by a more measured approach.
Still the kicking option was used if it was the best option. No doubt developed through using a predominantly game based approach over isolated drills.
This thought struck in my mind when watching Galway club giants Corofin defeat Roscommon’s Padraig Pearse’s to win their fourth in a row Connacht title.
The Galway side are always a team you like to see play football considering their style of play and team ethos.
Everyone remembers Corofin’s demolition of Nemo Rangers in the 2018 All-Ireland Final in Croke Park. A lethal cocktail of team play, confidence and ruthlessness exposed the Nemo defence.
This provides extra intrigue to the upcoming semi final rematch in January, as certainly so far this year Nemo Rangers have appeared much stronger defensively.
In the Connacht Final, Padraig Pearse’s brought a certain edge to the game but in fairness Corofin showed their experience and kept their focus. There were plenty of verbals, late tackles and interference off the ball.
In certain games some teams are going to bring that approach. It will depend on the leniency of the match referee and his officials that will decide what behavior a team can get away with.
While Corofin were tested early on, they were never rattled. It was never going to be an open game, and at stages it was a grind due to the incessant stoppages.
Nevertheless while Corofin’s kicking game was not as dominant it still proved decisive. An early kick pass to Ian Burke led to Liam Silke’s net bursting goal in the second half.
Dublin’s most successful manager Jim Gavin stepped away after a historic six All-Irelands in seven years. Some people can be involved for the wrong reasons but Gavin certainly came across as a person in it for the right reasons.
I have met him a few times on sidelines over the last few years but the actual first time I spoke to him was back in 2013 in Reardens of all places. Courteous, but like the best managers while saying a lot he said nothing!
The media may have been frustrated at times with his controlled and sterile interviews or press conferences but at the end of the day it’s about doing what is right for the team.
Respect is shown but the priority is his team’s preparations and the many different strands that feed into that.
When interviewed on taking up the role as manager in 2013 Gavin highlighted his main goal was to create a group which put winning for the team before any individual success.
Select players with a strong work ethic who want to play to a system. Players who are also very aware of the tradition and values of the jersey they are representing.
You could certainly say it was this approach which was the foundation to their success. To keep that level of performance for such a sustained period would not have been easy, but then that is credit to his management skills.
Dessie Farrell appears the front-runner to become Dublin’s new manager.
Considering his experience and success with previous minor and under 21 Dublin teams, Farrell seems the ideal candidate.
It is difficult to gauge how Dublin will fare next year in Jim Gavin’s absence.
Things might not reach the same level with the change in manager. The five in a row has been achieved though, so with fresh ideas and the pressure off Dublin’s game could go to another level.
Dublin has many strengths but just like this year most of their All-Ireland final wins have been close games.
Yes some Leinster championship games have been a non-event but still they have had no All Ireland handed to them.
Only thinking back to this years drawn game against Kerry when down to fourteen men, Stephen Cluxton positioned himself in the full back line to allow the rest of the Dublin team to go man to man and force turnovers. It was here where Dublin displayed best, the qualities that underpin their success.
Most counties are now back training flat out.
Dublin will wait and recommence collective training in January as they do every year. I am sure they feel this brings a mental and physical edge come the summer in Croke Park.
Contact: @paudiekissane email@example.com