Monday 22 January 2018

Utterly ludicrous to call Dublin a defensive team

Nothing negative about a centre-back holding his position to allow playmakers to flourish

Dublin celebrate their Allianz NFL Division 1 title
Dublin celebrate their Allianz NFL Division 1 title

Colm Parkinson

When Dublin hammered Monaghan (scoring 1-22) in the last round of the league in Clones a journalist at the game tweeted a picture showing Dublin with 13 players behind the ball.

He accompanied the picture with "a pic for all the commentators in Croke Park last week (against Derry) who only saw one team getting men behind the ball."

The tweet was retweeted 54 times, which gives an indication of the support out there for the nonsensical notion that Dublin are a 'defensive' team. The same journalist wrote a piece after Dublin beat Derry in which he said Dublin played just like Derry.

Funnily enough there were no tweets on Sunday during or after the game against Cork.

The reality is that someone could have taken a picture at some point during Sunday's league final where Dublin had extra men back defending. This often happens in games when opposition half-backs join the attack. However it wouldn't have been a fair representation of the game as a whole. Do Dublin really want attacking playmakers and scorers like Diarmuid Connolly and Colm Kilkenny using up their energy defending?

Please, let us put this to bed - Dublin are not a defensive team in the mould of Derry, Tyrone, Cork and Donegal. And neither are Kerry for that matter. Why some commentators want to run with that narrative, I don't know.

Dublin were sensational on Sunday, aided by a fairly poor effort from a decent Cork team. In Cork's defence Dublin did the same job on an in-form Derry in last years final and to a very useful Monaghan team in the All-Ireland quarter-final. Dublin have the firepower to blow teams away.

Their tactics were spot on too. Philly McMahon was perfect for the roving Mark Collins. James McCarthy pushed up on Colm O'Driscoll for kickouts and immediately filtered back to his position on the half-back line. Dublin won't make the same mistakes as last year.

Cian O'Sullivan held his position at centre-back and was excellent too. Some people call him a sweeper but he really just held his position - he was playing in defence!.

Real defensive teams, like the ones mentioned above, move forwards back to act as sweepers to cut down space.

Corks tactics backfired as Dublin pressed them high up the field and reduced the space they needed to work the ball out of defence. Playing against the many defensive teams in Division 1 wasn't adequate preparation for this Dublin side.

If I was Brian Cuthbert I would tweak his system. With the attacking talent he has in his squad he should be playing with at least four forwards, not two.

As for the Dubs, it's now Wednesday and I haven't heard anyone asking for Dublin to be split into two. I thought we GAA folk were more dramatic than that!

Irish Independent

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