Something from the weekend: Our GAA team’s views from the pressbox

Seán Moran and Malachy Clerkin with the main talking points from the weekend

 

Clare get their priorities back to front against Limerick

Clare first used an auxiliary defender in championship in the 2004 All-Ireland quarter-final. Anthony Daly’s reasoning was straightforward: Kilkenny had a lethal roster of forwards and shutting down their space would be a prerequisite of having any chance. It worked well enough to get Clare a replay.

Under David Fitzgerald’s management, Clare have been tactically flexible but inclined towards using a sweeper. They did so in the defeat at the weekend, dropping Patrick O’Connor back to mind the full backs.

The problem with this turned out to be that O’Connor, a more than capable man marker, was often under-utilised - standing spare with at times acres of space between him and the half backs, unoccupied territory in which Cian Lynch and colleagues were free to roam.

At the other end Clare produced plenty of evidence that had Shane O’Donnell received orthodox support they would have gone to town on Limerick. It was initially clear in the problems O’Donnell caused in an outnumbered attack and later when Aaron Cunningham arrived, in the havoc wrought by two inside forwards really going for it.

To what extent was it necessary to use a sweeper against a Limerick team whose strengths have not included a prolific goal threat? In the past two championships during which Limerick have contested two All-Ireland semi-finals, they have failed to raise a green flag in four out of seven matches and in only two have they managed more than one goal.

When Conor McGrath recovers full fitness it would be interesting to see Clare with a man-for-man configuration having a good cut at the opposition. SM

Monaghan over-reliant on McManus in Cavan

The abundant gifts of Conor McManus aren’t news to anyone but it’s no harm for him to throw in the occasional reminder as he did in Breffni Park on Sunday. Monaghan’s main forward was so central to their one-point win over Cavan that it’s difficult to see how they’d have made it across the line in such a sticky encounter without him. It isn’t that they’re a one-man team, it’s more that they have one man who can be trusted above all others. It is both their greatest strength and most obvious weakness.

McManus was double-marked throughout by Feargal Flanagan and one or other of Rory Dunne and Jason McLoughlin, depending on which side he went to. He took eight shots at goal and scored seven. Two of those were from play and entirely of his own making, scores for which he had to fight for 50/50 ball, gather facing away from goal, loop out and around his pursuers and finish on the run. Monaghan don’t have another player who can fashion scores like that from nothing.

Every time he got on the ball inside the Cavan 21-metre line six times in the game. Along with the two points, he got fouled for a free that he scored himself and another that Kieran Hughes pointed. Another time he got a shot away that dropped short. Only once did the sequence not end with a kick at the Cavan posts. That sort of economy is priceless.

Especially so in a team that puts such a burden on him. Monaghan were in trouble against Cavan precisely because for a half an hour, McManus didn’t touch the ball in open play inside the Cavan 45. The work-rate of Monaghan’s forwards is wholly admirable but there are spells in games where they badly need another body up alongside McManus, if only to take the attention off him. Exceptional and all as he is, he can’t save them every day. MC

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.