Fanning left fuming after Tipp's 'crazy' tactics in Clare reverse
FORMER All-Ireland winner Declan Fanning has delivered a damning assessment of Tipperary's performance against Clare in Thurles last Sunday – insisting that the amount of space left available to the Banner County was "appalling."
And Fanning described Tipp's tactics – which left full-back Paddy Stapleton hopelessly exposed against Clare's hat-trick hero Conor McGrath – as "crazy stuff."
Fanning, right half-back when Tipp won the 2010 All-Ireland title, felt sympathy for Stapleton, but added that his former team-mate should have called out for better protection.
Fanning (34) told Tipp FM: "There was so much room in front of our full-back line, it was appalling really. After 10 minutes, I was trying to figure out who was playing midfield, because our two wing-backs were out midfield and we had both our midfielders out there. It was crazy stuff.
"I'd be very disappointed if I was Paddy Stapleton, with the way the half-back line and midfielders totally disregarded the full-back line. We're all taught from a young age to tighten the back line. It doesn't help the (opposition) forwards if plenty of bodies are back there. That just didn't happen."
Fanning added: "You have (numbers) 5, 6 and 7 in the match and they must sit and they must talk to their midfielders. That's something I noticed sitting in the Old Stand – I heard no calling from any of the players. (Goalkeeper) Darren Gleeson and Paddy should have been roaring at their half-back line to get back there. After that, our half-back line should have been roaring at the two midfielders. There was no communication whatsoever. That's down to players, not even management.
"They need to start communicating. This is their team and the longer the year goes on, they have to get it right."
Fanning has called on the Tipp players to take ownership of the situation, but he has detected a real "sense of nervousness" in their play.
"Go back to the Waterford game and the one thing that everyone would have noticed was a sense of nervousness about the players and their touch. And in hurling, if you're nervous your touch isn't going to be right," Fanning added.
"You need to relax and hurl and that's something Eamon (O'Shea) would always have said. There seems to be a little bit of pressure on the players now after last year and after one win in three games in the league in 2014."
As Tipp prepare for their two remaining group games in Division 1A – against Galway and Dublin – Fanning has called for an urgent rethink: "There haven't been performances in the league to date of any noteworthiness. They need to sit down and rethink what the plan is from here on."
Tipp travel to Galway next Sunday badly in need of points to avoid being sucked into a relegation dogfight.
"You'd love to see a more settled team, maybe that Eamon and the lads would have an idea coming near the end of the league what their championship team was going to be. I'd love to see Conor O'Mahony back at No 6. When he came in last Sunday he settled it somewhat.
"It is down to the players – there's too much talk about management at times, especially when we're getting beaten.
"In fairness, the forwards do get a fair bit of flak, mainly because of their inability to win balls in the air or when they fall to the ground. But you have to play to a forward's strengths. So if you have a forward line not good in the air, why hit the ball in high to them? The backs and midfielders have to stand up and be accounted for here."