The Paudie Kissane column: Intensity is as important as skill at all levels

The Paudie Kissane column: Intensity is as important as skill at all levels

John Small of Dublin in action against Peter Harte of Tyrone. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

CREDIT Dublin for their intelligent football last weekend but never the less Tyrone made it too easy for them. 

Irrespective of what system or style of play you first need work-rate and commitment from all players. We didn’t get this from Tyrone.

Tyrone’s system is based on getting numbers back, shutting down space, and either turning over the opposition or forcing shots from long distance. Tyrone no doubt have spent many hours in the gym increasing their strength and power alongside improving tackling ability on the pitch.

Nevertheless, apart from Colm Cavanagh’s high challenge there was minimal physical contact on the Dublin’s players. For example, Paddy Andrews converted a great first point for Dublin out far on the right wing. The key though was Andrews had time to steady up and execute an accurate kick. This was a regular occurrence throughout the game.

Maybe deep down some Tyrone players had doubts whether they could win. Also Tyrone’s system is based on going a few points up and not down like last week. To have any chance against this Dublin team, you need everyone believing. Once Dublin got a great start those Tyrone doubts were magnified, resulting in a sub standard performance.

Dublin’s performance Sunday has been seen as a victory for attacking football. Blanket defences are supposedly not effective anymore as teams are more accustomed to dealing with the challenges they throw up.

Yes, Dublin broke through Tyrone’s defence easily through a combination of width, patience, movement but I don’t see blanket defences disappearing just yet.

Teams will always look to create space in attack will looking to reduce space for opposition attacks. The exact specifics will vary between teams but the aim will always be the space for the opposition forwards to play in while delaying the initial attack further out the field.

On occasions Dublin last Sunday had no issue getting fifteen men outside the opposition 45 and the same will happen at times in the All-Ireland final whether it be Dublin or Mayo.

It was by no means a perfect performance by Dublin as there was some poor use of possession, in particular early in the second half when concentration levels seem to drop. The competition for places along with the prize at stake will ensure intensity and quality is high in training over the next few weeks. 

As players are nine months into the season, the next few weeks will focus on still training hard but training smart. Maintaining fitness while ensuring players are fresh for the final.

Mayo had a great chance against Kerry provided they could stop the concession of soft goals. That is how it turned out in the replay with a clean sheet and Mayo well deserved their win in the end.

It can’t be ignored that Kerry still had six shots on goal in the game. While Kerry were struggling on their own kick-out they still were well in the game until midway through the second half. If Colm Boyle hadn’t cleared off the line from Paul Geaney’s effort, I think Kerry would have rallied and we would have got a much closer end result.

Colm Boyle’s intervention is a lesson for all defending players to keep chasing back until the ball is gone dead. Boyle epitomized Mayo’s play with his endless energy and determination.

Work-rate is still undervalued by many. It was the first step in both Dublin and Mayo’s victories. 

People are still looking for the magic drill, tactic or protein shake to do the trick but firstly you just ask are you or the team working hard enough. The issue with some players is that they perceive they actually are working hard enough when it is actually miles off what they are capable of.

I held a Player Development Clinic last week in Clonakilty with some of the top U15 talent in west Cork. This theme was on improving skills both physical and technical. 

This is not to be mistaken with traditional skill development where players perform cone drills with limited decision-making. Rather it was about improving a player's ‘movement’ combined with skill execution similar to what happens in the field of play.

A key area here was on movement specific to the demands of the game. Has the player, optimal levels of mobility and stability to ensure they can get into best position to execute their skills more effectively and fully harness their physical capacity?

We may ask our players to field a ball, but do they know how to jump? To tackle properly but do they know how to turn or move laterally? To accelerate onto the ball but do they know how to run? 

It’s about giving players to physical ability to take their sports performance to a higher level.

Another key element was ensuring the players understood the ‘why’ of what they were practicing. You would hope players would then take ownership of what they needed to do to improve away from the collective training.

Training at any level should be about doing things well. If a player can improve their physical ability plus game skills then they have more options as a player on the field and will be a harder player to play against. Yes, mistakes are ok as it’s part of the learning process but once a player is striving to do their best and improving then, in the long run, they will have more fun.

That might seem obvious I agree but with the present generation, it can be underestimated the importance of doing the basics really whether it be physical or technical skills. Looking at the best players in action in Croke Park last Sunday, I’m sure there is nothing taken for granted in their preparation.

CONTACT: @paudiekissane or visit

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