The glory days weren’t so glorious!

I was listening to ‘Game On’ on 2FM on the way home from work on Tuesday evening and GAA President Aoghán Ó Fearghail was being asked his opinion on the current state of Gaelic football.

  There has been a clamour recently for a rule change when it comes to the hand-pass, but something the current president said really hit the nail on the head.

  When asked about the “traditional values” of the game and the loss of high-fielding, Mr Ó Fearghail responded “Joe Lennon was probably the greatest exponent of coaching in modern times that I’m aware of – the great legend of County Down football – he always said the most important thing in Gaelic football was to keep possession and I think he’s correct. What’s the sense of going out and kicking a ball when you don’t know where it’s going to end up?”

  While the GAA president did admit that it might be exciting to see big kicks from full-backs and high fielding, it isn’t what the modern game is about. I completely agree with him and I found myself nodding to his next comment: “Have a look at old TG4 footage of the golden years of the 70s and 80s and when we look at them they’re not as golden as we thought at that time.”

  The fact is every sport evolves whether it’s tactics, technique, fitness levels or equipment. Where’s the sense in winning possession only to offer the opposition a 40/60 or even a 50/50 chance of regaining it? Now, I’m not saying that the game hasn’t become slightly more tedious but so too have many other sports including soccer and rugby at times. That’s simply what happens when coaches and players analyse the most efficient ways of winning.

  There are however two ways of winning, both attractive and ugly, and there are teams across different sports who have shown it’s possible to keep possession while winning in an attractive way.

  Think New Zealand in rugby, Barcelona in soccer and Dublin in Gaelic football. Possession can be attractive and effective when utilised by players who have been encouraged to be creative and attack-minded.

  Coaching and confidence are key in order to produce creative, risk-taking football.