Donegal tactics could ruin game - Brennan
Published 25/11/2011 | 05:00
Dublin centre back Ger Brennan has admitted his team's All-Ireland semi-final against Donegal was a game that betrayed Gaelic football.
Speaking in an interview on the DVD 'Six Steps to Sam', a reflection of Dublin's All-Ireland winning season, Brennan is adamant it is a game he would rather forget.
In contrast, his manager Pat Gilroy said it was the most important afternoon of his team's development from the rubble of their defeat to Kerry in the 2009 All-Ireland semi-final. But Brennan has no fondness for the 0-8 to 0-6 win which featured a Donegal defensive system regularly enforced by 14 players.
"For me, it's a game I want to forget as a footballer, because it was awful to play against. It wasn't Gaelic football to me," he said.
"I didn't enjoy it. It wasn't Gaelic football the way it is supposed to be played. I know we are defensive ourselves, but that was something we had never faced before. It was like a different sport to be honest. It was like a soccer match. You would hope that this isn't the future. It would ruin the game.
"It's certainly effective, but it's ugly. When you look at Michael Murphy scoring 1-6 for his club a couple of weeks later in a county final, yet he was only within 30 metres of our goals twice in the game, it beggars belief.
"It's the style they have. It's something they are trying to implement and maybe he's trying to get defence right first. Maybe they'll introduce more attacking football."
He acknowledged the win over Donegal was the best reflection of the mental strength that transformed the team.
"Where we showed mental strength was that we kept doing what we were doing all year. Before we went into that game we spoke about that it might be just the last five minutes before we went a point up, so we knew we just had to keep doing what we were doing all year.
"We had reached a level of mental strength where we were the only team that could beat ourselves," he said.
"Against Cork in the semi-finals last year we panicked, we made bad errors. We should have closed it out. A lot of that came down to inexperience and panicking. Over Christmas we spent a lot of our time looking at the mental aspect of our game and how we could stamp out what happened against Cork."
For Gilroy, beauty is in the eye of the beholder however and Donegal told him everything he wanted to know about his team.
"The Tyrone game was a good performance by us, but if you move it on, the Donegal match we showed our most resolve. That was such a difficult situation and the team just stayed composed.
"Although the two performances were good performances, the Donegal one was better in terms of what we had to do that day. Mentally, what we had to do was break down a very good defensive team. For me, that was a big day for us."
Brennan admitted he had reason to be thankful to Eamon Fennell, who won the throw-in against Kieran Donaghy after Brennan had placed his hand in Donaghy's face having won a free.
"That incident at the end of the game, when I raised my hands, I was fouled and I wanted to take a quick free. It was a silly thing to do and it's one of those times when that red mist comes down on you. I was very lucky that Eamon Fennell went up and won that ball
"It was silly. It's something I have to continue to learn from. I know you can't put your hand out like that."
Gilroy is adamant in his belief that his players will look forward to 2012 with renewed vigour and has admitted that the departure of some of Dublin's big clubs so early in the championship could be a blessing in disguise. "I think they are getting a decent break. The clubs that had the largest representation on the panel have gone out of the championship earlier... That's a big advantage. It could work in our favour.
He also admitted to being taken by the reception of people to their win, not just within the confines of Dublin itself.
"It's only when you go down to places like Laois or Cavan and the reception is the same as you are getting in Dublin that you appreciate what you have done," he said.