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Tomás Ó Sé Breaks Down Simple Method Of Beating Blanket Defences

Tomás Ó Sé Breaks Down Simple Method Of Beating Blanket Defences
By Eoin Harrington Updated
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As the intercounty GAA season motors on, the debate around the state of modern Gaelic football rages on.

Last week's All-Ireland round robin game between Dublin and Roscommon ignited much discussion about the use of possession tactics, after a six-minute 77-pass period of possession for the Rossies at the end of the first half.

Some major figures such as Peter Canavan even suggested that the GAA would need to intervene to prevent such scenarios in the future.

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The issues with modern football are far broader than possession football, though.

Earlier this season, Pat Spillane was the loudest voice to bemoan how football had become so low scoring, particularly when it came to points from play.

One of the biggest reasons for the decline in scoring at the highest level of Gaelic football has been the widespread employment of "blanket defences" in recent years, with attackers restricted from getting into scoring positions near the posts.


Speaking on The Sunday Game this week, Kerry legend Tomás Ó Sé broke down Monaghan's clash with Clare - and noted an intriguing approach used by both teams which could be a solution to the issue of blanket defences.

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GAA: Tomás Ó Sé praises unusual Monaghan v Clare tactics

4 June 2023; Jack Mc Carron of Monaghan in action against Cillian Brennan of Clare during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 2 match between Monaghan and Clare at St Tiernach's Park in Clones, Monaghan. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Tomás Ó Sé and Cora Staunton appeared on this week's Sunday Game to analyse the second round of action from the All-Ireland senior football championship. One of the games they broke down was the meeting of Monaghan and Clare in Clones.

The two counties played out an entertaining, high-scoring contest, with Monaghan winning out 1-23 to 1-18 on home soil.


During his analysis of the game, Ó Sé pointed out an approach both teams had taken to scoring opportunities which he believed more counties should explore as a solution to breaking down blanket defences.

It may seem almost too obvious, but Ó Sé believed both teams showed that attempting scores from long range was a high-risk high-reward solution when playing against teams with heavily manned defences:

I don't know if you would describe the defending up above there today as "naive" at times.

You're always taught, I suppose, to protect the D, that area is sacrosanct. You defend it hard.

In Monaghan v Clare, both sides actually scored so much. 1-12 from play, Clare got, 1-19 Monaghan scored. But an awful amount of the scores were from outside.

Darragh Bohannan had a huge game for Clare today, he got a brilliant goal in the second half. He started it off - as I was watching it, it was like up one side, down the other side. It literally was every single score outside the D.

As I said, teams will be coached to clutter and cluster as they come inside that D. But here, both sides...some of the scoring.

It's high-risk, I suppose, but it didn't seem that wind was a factor up above today. Both sides, it didn't matter what it was. It was strange, you don't see teams taking chances like both teams did today.

You could also ask if the defending was naive, they both pushed up on kickouts, that space was there. Do every team push up on kickouts? I'm not sure.

I know we give out so much about defensive stuff - it was so refreshing to watch.

Ó Sé went on to note that not every team will have the likes of a David Clifford who can ping points over at ease, but nonetheless said he was intrigued to see if these tactics would become more prevalent in the GAA, even as the intercounty championship got towards the business end of the season.

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