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Thursday 29 September 2016

Casey calamity shows risk not worth reward

Published 08/05/2016 | 02:30

Cork goalkeeper Anthony Casey saves a shot from Mayo's Conor Loftus, during the EirGrid GAA Football Under 21 All-Ireland Championship Final. Photo: Sportsfile
Cork goalkeeper Anthony Casey saves a shot from Mayo's Conor Loftus, during the EirGrid GAA Football Under 21 All-Ireland Championship Final. Photo: Sportsfile

Having elsewhere praised Anthony Casey for moving beyond his big mistake against Mayo in the All-Ireland under-21 final, I'm now going to bring the incident up again. Apologies dude.

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It's just that Conor Loftus's match-winning goal raises a couple of interesting questions about the way Gaelic football is played now. Casey isn't the first 'keeper to have a kick-out blow up in his face. Six days earlier Brendan Kealy was caught out in the same way when his restart was intercepted by Paul Flynn, who exacted the maximum punishment. And the 2014 All-Ireland final was decided when Paul Durcan put a kick-out straight to Kieran Donaghy. There will be plenty of similar mishaps at club and county level before the summer is up.

Perhaps the short kick-out could be banned for humanitarian reasons so goalkeepers are not exposed to the possibility of being humiliated in this manner. Whatever about the accurate, medium-range kick-out, the one which barely travels the 10 yards to a corner-back, who may not be at his most alert, is an accident waiting to happen.

Ask why there's such a preponderance of them at the moment and you'll be told that in the modern game possession is absolutely vital. But you do wonder if the short kick-out is all that wise in percentage terms. Get it wrong and a fair bit of that vital possession is going to be spent hauling back the three points you've just given away. Managers love the short kick-out but it's the keepers who end up looking like berks.

Stephen Cluxton may be the best 'keeper, in terms of distribution, ever to play the game but even he is fallible. When Mayo put the pressure on last year his kicking game went to pieces. So what hopes for the less-talented goalkeeper? Too many number ones are being asked to do things which aren't possible for the average goalie.

Mind you, Casey would have been considerably less embarrassed had Loftus done what plenty of players have done in this position and fisted the ball over the bar. The Mayo forward still had a bit to do when he got the ball and it took a powerful shot on the run to capitalise on the gift he'd been given.

Had Loftus put the ball over the bar the commentators would have praised him for 'taking the wise option'.

Yet in an era when goal chances are few and far between, how wise is it not to go for it when you get a sight of the net? Any inter-county player worth his salt should surely fancy his chances of beating a goalkeeper from 20 yards or closer. Mayo won because they ruthlessly went for goals. Other teams would be advised to follow their lead. That bit of courage could be the difference between glory and disappointment.

Now, let's never mention that Mayo goal again.

Sunday Indo Sport

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