Message to goalkeepers: 'Get the ball back into play as quickly as possible from the kicking tee'

Studies have shown the sooner the ball is in the air the greater the chance of getting a score at the other end
Message to goalkeepers: 'Get the ball back into play as quickly as possible from the kicking tee'

Eyes on the ball: Cork's Ruairí Deane challenges  goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton during the Super 8s in 2019 at Croke Park. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

DURING the early part of Cork’s 2010 All-Ireland winning season, Dublin had issues with regular keeper Stephen Cluxton, who shared the role with Michael Savage.

The then goalkeeping coach Gary Matthews used stand on the 20m line with a stop-watch and take notes.

After six or seven weeks they analysed the various stats, which showed Dublin were getting a better return from Savage.

Did he have a better kick-out? What was actually happening was that Savage had the ball on the tee within five seconds of a kick-out.

Cluxton was busy giving out to the full-back or the umpire or whatever was going on and it was taking him 12 or 13 seconds.

That allowed the opposition to set up and it meant Dublin’s return from the kick-out was lower. Cluxton duly learned from it.

This was one of the many fascinating aspects of Cork’s second webinar on goalkeepers’ development pathway and was relayed by Ray O’Mahony of Éire Óg, a former Dublin U21 netminder.

It had other contributions from Billy O’Connor on the importance of footwork and handling, Briain Morgan on shot stopping, Kevin Murphy on communication and resilience and Pat Prendergast on resources to help budding keepers.

Such was the interest in the webinar that over 200 players, coaches, managers and selectors, tuned in for the hour-long event.

The third and final leg will be pitch sessions, lasting two hours, when restrictions are eased.

O’Mahony’s 20-minute session on kick-outs revolved around a whole range of topics like styles, process, strategies, techniques, ‘green ball’ and kicking tees.

“Some 70 percent of bad kick-outs led to scores or scoring opportunities from the average 23 recorded during the 2019 season and you could be gifting 16 scores or chances,” he observed.

“Successful teams won 72 percent of their restarts and 55 percent on the opposition’s. It’s worth going after the opponent’s kick-outs.

“The general thinking is to win possession high up the pitch to create a scoring opportunity.”

O’Mahony stressed the importance of getting the ball on the kicking tee as quickly as possible and every outfield player should be focused on the keeper.

“Ideally the ball should be on the tee within five to seven seconds and players should not have their backs to the kick-out.”

Even more significant is the link between keeper and his teammates as O’Mahony highlighted movement starts the kick-out, not the other way round.

“It’s one of the most important aspects for the outfield players, who must understand this. Purposeful runs create the space for colleagues to win possession.

“For example, a wing-back made 12 runs for the keeper but only received the ball once during the first half of a particular game. The team created eight scoring chances and took six.”

The technique of kicking ranges from hook, sidefoot, long punt and the ping. The driven kick is the preferred option.

“Practice would be the crossbar challenge, standing 13 or 14 metres out and driving the ball against the black spot.

“Technique, practice and patience are the three key words. This takes time and won’t happen overnight.”

Apparently, the latest phenomenon to hit the sport is the so-called ‘green ball.’

This is a weighted ball that is used to improve accuracy and increase distance.

Peter Schmeichel, the former Man Utd and Denmark keeper, introduced this to his training many years ago.

Dublin followed suit at the start of the century but switched to this GAA ball in 2016 and it is growing in popularity.

“The Ulster counties and some of the Dublin clubs are big into it. And Kerry are starting to take an interest.

“Studies by Cian O’Neill and Ed Coughlan in CIT showed a 13 percent increase in distance gained.

“It helps power, accuracy, distance and strengthens muscle. It’s all about repetition, practice and consistency.

“It’s a size 5 ball and should ideally be introduced half-way through an U14 season initially, building up slowly.

“We recommend the ‘ashtray’ tee, which is about 20-21cm because it promotes the driven kick.

“The brush tee encourages a loopy kick and it can be difficult to balance the ball in a wind.”

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