Sport Gaelic Football

Saturday 7 December 2019

'Mark your man' - it's never outdated

Kildare boss Cian O’Neill. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Kildare boss Cian O’Neill. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Within minutes of losing to Dublin last Sunday, Kildare boss Cian O'Neill had figures from the computer analysis of the game. And he wasn't happy with them.

"We just didn't get enough off primary possession. We got some great ball in there (close to the Dublin goal) in the first half but the product wasn't what it should have been; 43 per cent in the first half, 31 in the second.

"I think the key statistic today, apart from our shooting percentage, was our turnovers. We gave the ball away very naively and stupidly and we got punished by a very good team," he said.

The "very good team" was essentially Dublin's third string, whose victory secured a place in the Bord na Móna O'Byrne Cup final.

Now, it's up to Louth to save the rest of Leinster's blushes by preventing Dublin winning the title next Sunday.

O'Neill was 'disgusted' by the manner his side lost the game and, no doubt, this week's debrief is pretty intense as the Lilywhites begin re-programming for their Allianz League opener against Meath, who also have plenty to ponder after being well beaten by Louth.

Stats and assorted other computer information play a big part in GAA camps nowadays - certainly in football - yet when it really comes down to it, most games are decided on the basics.

Kildare flopped badly on that front last Sunday. Minding possession has always been central to the game, while 'mark your man' has reverberated around thousands of fields through the ages. Yet, Kildare ignored all that for long stretches last Sunday, including when allowing Dublin's Niall Scully an unchallenged shot for the lead point late on after Conor McHugh spotted him unmarked while lining up a 40-metre free. Sometimes, games are lost on the simplest of things that don't need to be computerised.

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