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Is Eddie Brennan Right About Defensive Systems Turning Hurling Into 'Rugby With Sticks'?

Is Eddie Brennan Right About Defensive Systems Turning Hurling Into 'Rugby With Sticks'?
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton
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While hurling is loved throughout the country for the incredibly exciting games it produces at the very highest level, there has been a sense in recent times that some of the tactics employed by inter-county teams is starting to put a halt to the high scoring affairs we have become accustomed to in recent times.

Defensive systems are becoming more prevalent in the game, and that is having an effect on the sport as a spectacle. Such a narrative was on full display last weekend, as a well-drilled Dublin side fell just short against Limerick in a league semi-final.

The Dubs lost despite their stringent defensive system, something that many onlookers were unhappy about. That group included Kilkenny legend and current Laois manager Eddie Brennan, who compared their brand of hurling to 'rugby with sticks'.


Discussing his comments on this week's Three Man Weave, the Balls.ie GAA podcast, the lads felt that this is something that is going to become even more common in the game.


Full discussion on the subject: Chapter 2, at 19.10.

Maurice: If I was to make a prediction about this year's hurling championship, I think it will be a disappointment compared last year, and this is why. So just to clarify what happened here. Dublin were playing Limerick at the weekend and they used the 'Limerick system', where you drop out everybody apart from two of the inside three and have this savage hardworking half-forward line playing very deep.

He tweeted in response to this... he later called it 'Rugby with sticks'.

You had players like Sutcliffe, Boland and Eamon Dillon coming out and working savage hard around the '45, which is something Limerick do as well by the way...

The problem with that is that Limerick tried to do it to Galway, and Galway tried to play with a full forward line and it makes it a really entertaining game, but if you try to replicate that it dilutes the quality of hurling and becomes a bit congested, savage and brutal, and the whole thing become a bit stop start.

Mark: Derek McGrath did a piece on the Sunday Game a couple of weeks ago when Clare played Limerick and showed how they played the exact same system, and how it was just whoever cam out with the ball.

Maurice: Galway are doing it too with Whelan and Joe Canning coming back into their own half and working hard. It leads to a huge increase in turnovers, but the scoring statistics are going down in this year's league. That is also to do with the fact that there is no relegation.

Mick: I know it hasn't been the worst winter of all time but a lot of hurling has been played in absolutely diabolical conditions this season over the course of the league as well.

Maurice: I take that into consideration, but I still think that there's a trend that this going to be a tactic now, especially when the All-Ireland champions laid it out and that will set something up.

On this week's podcast, we spoke to Kerry's Paul Murphy, Mayo's Chris Barrett and Donegal's Stephen McMenamin. The lads also debated the "ugly hurling" criticism, previewed the weekend's games and started a historic new petition. You can listen on Spotify, iTunes, Pocketcast or any podcast platform.

SEE ALSO: 'Split It' - Sligo Star Weighs In On The League Format Debate



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