Tuesday 25 July 2017

Read and weep for modern football

'Dr Crokes (pictured) will point to the Andy Merrigan Cup doing the rounds in Killarney as proof that winning is all that matters to a team.' Photo: Sportsfile
'Dr Crokes (pictured) will point to the Andy Merrigan Cup doing the rounds in Killarney as proof that winning is all that matters to a team.' Photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Here are some interesting stats from the final six minutes of the Dr Crokes v Slaughtneil All-Ireland club football final:

Scores: 0

Handpasses: 52 (all by Dr Crokes players)

Foot passes: 11 (all by Dr Crokes players)

Ball passed backwards: 27

Ball passed laterally: 10

Dr Crokes will point to the Andy Merrigan Cup doing the rounds in Killarney as proof that winning is all that matters to a team. Nobody will argue with that but we can all weep over the manner in which Gaelic football has been corrupted.

A club - or indeed a county - trying to win an All-Ireland final cannot be expected to concern itself with the methodology, especially when it's within the rules. Of course, the rules are the big issue as they continue to reward negativity.

With a two-point lead and an extra man for all of the second half, Dr Crokes set about denying Slaughtneil possession in the final six minutes. They resorted to keep-ball, passing incessantly, all the time driving their opponents, not to mention the viewing public in Croke Park and on TG4, to the edge of distraction. Dr Crokes never lost possession in that period, using Croke Park's full expanse to deny frustrated and weary opponents. It was a visual abomination, but it achieved its purpose.

And when Slaughtneil committed a foul deep in stoppage time, the free wasn't taken for 83 seconds due to various delays, including Dr Crokes sending on two subs. Yet, only 45 seconds were added to the announced stoppage time of three minutes.

It was a masterclass in game management, albeit one with zero entertainment value. But then, if clubs see county teams getting away with it, why shouldn't they do the same? How long more will the handpassing virus be allowed to corrupt the game?

Irish Independent

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