Tuesday 21 October 2014

Kildare and Cork have lot of ground to cover on tactical maestros

Colm Parkinson

Published 09/07/2014 | 02:30

Cork manager Brian Cuthbert was given a tactical lesson by Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice last Sunday. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Cork manager Brian Cuthbert was given a tactical lesson by Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice last Sunday. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Paul Grimley was slated for his naive tactics when Armagh lost to Cavan in the Ulster championship last year. Martin Dunne took advantage of the vast space afforded to him by the Armagh defence and scored eight points from play. Grimley watched on and made no change to his system.

He issued an apology to Armagh fans in the aftermath of the defeat saying: "As to what went wrong, you may or may not know, we have adopted a very attack-minded approach from the start of the year, a high-pressure, high-risk strategy which was practiced throughout the league with limited success.

"But we will persist with our plan, although we shall address the risk element of our tactic and plan B will arrive when plan A is polished, as these will need to be worked on over months, if not years, to get right."

This season, in successive weeks, Jason Ryan and Brian Cuthbert have not had the tactical flexibility to change their game-plan during the course of a game when, even to a casual observer, something needed to be done.

I mentioned last week that I think Eamonn Fitzmaurice is an excellent manager. He is tactically astute and not afraid to take risks and he proved that again on Sunday. He changed his game-plan from the semi-final against Clare and ambushed Cork on their home patch. Grimley bluffed about plan B "taking months, if not years, to get right" – Fitzmaurice created one that worked in two weeks!

Last season, Davy Fitzgerald played with a sweeper until the All- Ireland semi-final against Limerick. For that semi-final he changed his tactics and reverted to a more orthodox formation. It was a daring and surprising move to change what had been successful for the Clare team until that point. As a result, in the lead up to the All-Ireland final, Cork didn't know what to expect. Again, Davy, like him or loathe him, is an excellent manager tactically.

Players always want a plan B. They want to trust that when things are not going according to plan, their manager will make the right calls on the line. Right now that trust will have been damaged in the Kildare and Cork dressing-rooms.

Irish Independent

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