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McGrath And Donal Óg Analysis Met With Criticism By Former Players

McGrath And Donal Óg Analysis Met With Criticism By Former Players

Last night's Sunday Game featured a lively discussion on the use of the sweeper system in hurling.

Former Cork goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack, who has worked as a coach with Davy Fitzgerald in the past, believes that criticism of innovations in the game, such as the use of a sweeper, is a mentality leftover from British rule of Ireland.

"Innovation is the lifeblood of any game," said Cusack.

"A lot of the way that Davy and Derek [McGrath] have been challenged, it's as if they have been disrespecting the game.

"I'd actually say not to innovate is actually disrespecting the game.

"It reminds me of what's happened in the mid-2000s when it came to Gaelic football. You had a lot of intelligent coaches that were playing the game in a certain way and it was very easy to make cheap shots about the likes of puke football.

"Why weren't people asking why did people want to do this? I think it's fantastic. Is there only one way that we should be playing the game of hurling? I don't think so. I don't want one way of playing the game. I want teams to come along with different ideas, different approaches, different tactics like we saw with Wexford today.

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"The last point I'll make because it's often in my mind. I actually think that kind of accusation of disrespecting the traditions of the game, I actually think it's part of last remnants of British culture on these islands.

"The British, with games - they founded a lot of them - but they struggled to accept and adapt the wider influences in their games. I would equate this long ball to John Bull type spirit, Jack Charlton-type spirit, it's exactly the same type of spirit because the I'm delighted the modern [hurling] player has moved on.

"If you went into any modern inter-county dressing room, they wouldn't be interested in that type of talk. They know themselves that the game has moved on.

"The same fellas who were challenging that type of stuff, I bet you they would at one stage have been challenging picking the ball off the ground in hurling. [Mick] Mackey was one of the first fellas to solo the ball and I bet you they are the same type of fellas who have been on Davy's and Derek's case."

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Former Waterford manager Derek McGrath was also on last night's programme.

"I can only go on my experience with Waterford and my experience was that players craved information," said McGrath, "they craved instruction but they also craved flexibility, adaptability, the idea of having fun.

"There's a merger between ambition, drive, innovation, fun and enjoyment. What we're seen over the weekend is that flexibility of approach and that totality of approach.

"On a personal level, I sat at home in 2016 on the night of The Sunday Game and the Moments of the Year were picked out. One of the moments which was picked out was our pummelling at the hands of Tipperary in 2016.

"'System breakdown, a system meltdown' were the words used and that we learned for the semi-final against Kilkenny the same year where 'we took the shackles off and we let them at it, let them out and play'.

"I can tell you, we were more scripted and more rehearsed and more planned for that Kilkenny game in 2016, that for any game where it was espoused that the shackles were off and we played with freedom.

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"Freedom can co-exist within a structure. We're all espousing about the fact that we want to express ourselves and play the game."

Cusack and McGrath's analysis was met with criticism from many former inter-county players.

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See Also: Davy Fitzgerald Gracious In Defeat As He Praises 'Incredible' Wexford

PJ Browne
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