Sunday 4 December 2016

Dad 'doesn't have a clue' as Darcy embraces game's new tactical elements

Published 15/09/2016 | 02:30

Dublin selector Declan Darcy. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin selector Declan Darcy. Photo: Sportsfile

There are times, Declan Darcy laughs, when his father watches Dublin games and "doesn't have a clue what's going on".

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Darcy makes the point only to emphasise the pace at which the game has evolved of late. And to highlight how the tactical shifts can be so nuanced they go unnoticed by the naked eye in real time.

Dublin seem to be driving part of that change. It's not uncommon for them to have eight recognised forwards on the pitch when a game is on the line.

On paper, it looks high risk but often it's a move based on common sense and might see the introduction of another attacker to occupy the opposition's sweeper.

Only a few years ago such a move would have seemed unlikely, but Darcy believes that, even in his four years as part of Jim Gavin's management team, Gaelic football has changed significantly.

"It's gone from being an off-the-cuff type of thing to now, where you are tactically changing within the game. I like that.

"My father goes to the match and he doesn't have a clue what's going on. He doesn't know why fellas are here, there or anywhere.

"He doesn't see it. He doesn't see the kick-outs or anything. He just sees the ball going over the bar. I look at it in a different way - from a coach's viewpoint."

Darcy credits the likes of Mickey Harte and Jim McGuinness with helping speed up the rate of change within football. They set trends and others have followed.

"The game has gone very tactical, so there's (the) observation part of what the opposition are doing with their extra players.

"Are they bringing a forward back to sweep? Does that allow you to play an extra forward?

"The tactical part of Gaelic football has evolved and it's fascinating. I love watching it.

As Dublin stand on the brink of unquestionable greatness, Darcy insists that the players must take the credit for carrying out the gameplan they are given.

While they are handed a framework on how to win a match, they still have to take responsibility in the crucial moments.

"If they put in the work it's reflected in how they perform, especially on the big days when the pressure's really on," said Darcy.

"That's when you see good decision making. Cormac Costello gets a ball on the right side, does he go and go for glory? Or does he stop and say, 'I need to hold the play up'. It is all different dynamics (now)."

By Sunday evening, Gavin could be collecting his third All-Ireland title as manager.

That would thrust him deeper into the conversations regarding the great football managers.

Having been by his side since the start of his managerial career, Darcy reckons success hasn't changed him.

"He's still a grumpy oul' git! Says f*ck all!" Darcy smiles. "Since I played with Jim, we got on very well, we've got a good dynamic.

"With the U21s, we did very well so we've got a great understanding. We just have that thing…I can't explain it. We have a good connection.

"On Sunday we'll all take a deep breath and if we are lucky to win, we'll be happy."

Irish Independent

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