Friday 20 April 2018

10 things I've learned from this year's championship

Eamonn O'Hara

1 Referees change their style as the championship progresses. At the start, they were refereeing to the letter of the law and foul handpasses were being pulled up consistently. Unfortunately, some teams suffered as a result, but as the year went on, refs appear to be under instruction from the powers that be, told to ease off on certain interpretations of the rules.

2 The All-Ireland hurling final presentation was a flop, in my eyes. I didn't think there was any real celebration or fanfare surrounding it. There were no fabulous scenes of celebration that we have become accustomed to. The GAA should look at investing some money in fireworks and confetti instead of stopping people from coming onto the pitch.

3The game isn't won until you play it. I'm referring specifically to Sligo's Connacht final defeat to Roscommon. When a player is not used to dealing with that little bit of pressure, some complacency can set in. We probably thought the game was won beforehand and didn't work as hard as we should have.

4The six-day turnaround needs to be looked at, as a precautionary thing for players in terms of recovery and their mental state. We were desperately flat against Down in that one-sided All-Ireland qualifier. The wind was gone out of our sails completely after Roscommon. Some people believed getting out on the pitch again so quickly after the provincial final might be a good thing, because it didn't allow us to dwell on Roscommon. But there was huge disappointment there which needed to be dealt with before we could move on.

5 At 35 years of age, I need to box clever. I had an injury-enforced break during the National League and when the championship came around, I really felt the benefits. I had a full pre-season behind me and my campaign really started at the National League final stage. I was fresh for the summer.

6 Dublin have only one brilliant forward in Bernard Brogan and you won't win an All-Ireland with just one top-class attacker. Bernard's brother Alan is a fabulous footballer, but he's wasted working back around midfield and the half-back line. He should be in close to Bernard for maximum effect.

7 The blanket defence still works, but needs time to work. Dublin managed it to a tee at times in this year's championship. I played the sweeper role myself, but the system is very much dependent on your forwards out the field working hard. Essentially, you have five guys across the half-back line and a sweeper in front of the full-back line. You can then break at pace and there's nothing more disheartening for the opposition, when they have coughed up possession, to see a team deliver quick ball to the other end and score.

8 The provincial winners were left high and dry. Teams from the qualifiers were coming through on the back of huge momentum. When you're winning, you want to keep playing matches rather than break for a few weeks. Kildare gained huge momentum through the back door and weren't affected by an intense schedule of games.

9 Umpires are not doing their job. Talk of introducing Hawk-Eye technology is a smokescreen for how poor umpires really are. We need to clarify exactly what their role is. They're not there to put their hands in their pockets. They have an obligation to inform the referee of a corner- back pulling and dragging a corner-forward or other such incidents, and to judge whether the ball has gone over the line or over the bar. They should be capable of those tasks. On the technology theme, I'm not in favour of trial by TV. Let the referee and the players themselves look after each other on the field of play.

10If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. Cork are not the chokers everybody talked about. They were awesome yesterday, particularly after the changes they made. Down and out in the first half, the new champions came roaring back and showed unbelievable skill. Now, Cork can go on and become a serious, dominant team for the next two or three years. There were scoring heroes aplenty and Graham Canty, when he came on yesterday, steadied the ship. But a special mention for Aidan Walsh in the middle of the field -- he was superb.

Irish Independent

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