Sunday 23 July 2017

Clarke a victim of kick-out myths

David Clarke, the All-Star goalkeeper apparently cost Mayo a goal during the crucial settling-in phase. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
David Clarke, the All-Star goalkeeper apparently cost Mayo a goal during the crucial settling-in phase. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

"Another poor kick-out," declared Benny Tierney on co-commentary with Darragh Maloney for RTÉ's 'Allianz League Sunday' programme as he reviewed Dublin's goal against Mayo in Croke Park last Saturday night.

The so-called 'poor kick-out' was delivered by David Clarke. So there you have it. The All-Star goalkeeper apparently cost Mayo a goal during the crucial settling-in phase.

Didn't a former All-Ireland medal-winning goalkeeper say it? Those who believe it was right to drop Clarke in favour of Robert Hennelly for last year's All-Ireland final replay would, no doubt, agree.

So let's examine Tierney's theory a little more closely. Actually, there was nothing wrong with Clarke's kick. However, the intended target was beaten by a Dublin opponent coming at pace. One quick transfer and Keith Higgins found himself the only defender close to goal against three Dublin attackers, leaving Conor McHugh with a tap-in.

A few questions. Why was the Dublin player allowed an unchecked run towards Clarke's kick-out? And when Dublin got possession, why were Mayo so threadbare close to goal? Just before the goal, a long delivery by Dean Rock presented Eoghan O'Gara with a goal chance which he missed. Once again, only one Mayo defender was inside the 20-metre line where three Dubs lurked menacingly.

A myth has grown around kick-outs. Granted, some goalkeepers are more accurate than others but the success or otherwise of the deliveries are largely decided by the movement of the outfield players. Finding fault with Clarke, currently by far the best goalkeeper in the game as he showed again on Saturday, for Dublin's goal ignores that reality. But then, for some reason, outfield players rarely get blamed for losing kick-outs.

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