independent

Wednesday 22 November 2017

If 'modern' game is played like that, we can't complain

Billy Dodd's Football Analysis

Billy Dodd
Billy Dodd

Last Sunday I watched enthralled as Kerry and Mayo battled it out for a coveted place in the All-Ireland final.

What we witnessed was an exhibition of modern day football. We had lung-bursting runs, crunching tackles, heroic defending, great scores under immense pressure, and a large dose of honest endeavour.

Yes, there were mistakes, and yes, we had blanket defending; many times during the game Kerry did not have a forward inside the Mayo 45-metre line, but really it had everything.

Traditionalists bemoan the modern game, but if it continues to be played like that one how can we complain? No matter what the vintage of the ex-player is, the game was always a lot better in their day, but really would they last five minutes now such is the athletic conditioning of today's players?

To be honest I was hoping for a draw so we could get the opportunity to witness another spectacle of the same quality. I think the bank and credit union managers in Mayo must be visiting Knock every week, because business must be booming with the tour of Ireland their county is on this year. Long may it continue!

Football is constantly changing as managers try to outwit each other with formations and defensive tactics to reduce the amount of scores conceded.

Some rule changes will help improve the game but unfortunately we are now used to seeing many putrid games interspersed with the odd classic like last Sunday, and that's not going to change.

Club teams are also mimicking the county scene so the trend will continue. Derek McGrath was seen as the pariah of hurling for a long time while now we are encouraged to embrace his system and enjoy the way the game has evolved.

Wexford have used a sweeper system in hurling to great effect this year which has brought us back to competing at the highest level after a long gap.

Would we swap the recent successes for a return to not being competitive and back in a lower division for a return to more 'traditional' tactics? I don't think so.

What is traditional anyway? Game styles change, playing and training methods change, player preparation and lifestyles change; all with one aim…to win.

Supporters will follow success no matter what method is used to achieve it. If Waterford win the All-Ireland, McGrath will be seen as a hero and a revolutionary, and if they lose he could be criticised from all corners.

Whatever happens, the game of hurling is also changing, but it'll never be as hard to watch as a bad football game.

I followed the inquiry into the Olympic Council of Ireland and Pat Hickey with a passing interest last week, as Judge Moran valiantly tried to make sense of the whole affair, despite not being able to interview the man who ran the council with an iron fist for many years.

I encountered Hickey for a few moments in 2012 outside the Excel Arena at the London Olympics. I was a ticket-less fan looking, sorry begging, for a ticket and willing to ask the queen of England for the opportunity to buy one.

I would have cut the grass outside the palace for her I was that desperate. Michael Conlan and Katie Taylor were in semi-final action and my so-called friend (sic) Billy Walsh couldn't even come up trumps.

I recognised Hickey as he came to the entrance and approached him in the most crawling apologetic way I could possibly muster, while asking him if he had any idea where I might be able to buy a ticket.

He looked at me as if I was the biggest lump of dog s**t he had ever picked up on his shoe and didn't even muster a grunt.

I felt even smaller than I am and fairly embarrassed too for asking. Needless to say, when he was arrested and embarrassed in Rio last year I'm surprised he didn't hear me laughing from my house.

Wexford People

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