Saturday 15 December 2018

Pat Spillane outlines eight reasons why the blanket defence in gaelic football is dead

Pat Spillane

I PROMISE this will be the last time I will write about the blanket defence this summer, but here are eight reasons why this system of play is redundant and doomed to fail.

1. Conceding the opposition kick-out while players retreat back hands the opposition uncontested possession.

2. The blanket defence inevitably means that there is no discernible forward plan.

3. The system virtually outlaws the ball being kicked long into the opposition’s danger zone. Fermanagh, managed by Rory Gallagher, failed to deliver one ball into that sector in the first half of their Ulster final defeat.

4. As Tyrone discovered to their cost against Dublin last year, handing possession to superior opposition and allowing them time on the ball is a kamikaze tactic because the better footballers will eventually find a way through even the thickest blanket.

5. Pulling all your forwards back into your own half allows the opposition defenders to move up the field unopposed, move into scoring positions and then score. Last Sunday the Donegal defenders scored 2-3, more than all of the Fermanagh forwards.

6. It is an anti-football system which is not designed to win games because it fails to seriously test the opposition defence.

7. The system is woefully difficult to execute on the bigger pitches because of the huge amount of space which has to be covered. It simply doesn’t work in Croke Park. And on roasting hot days like we had in Clones for the Ulster, invariably players cannot keep going for the entire match.

8. Finally, when a team falls behind the system is effectively redundant because it’s not designed to chase the game. Once Donegal got their two first-half goals it was game over. Fermanagh had no Plan B.

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