Something has to be done. Ulster football has developed a less than desirable reputation in recent times, and much of what is said is unfair. However, when you see incidents such as this one, it is very difficult to defend.
St Patrick's Maghera and Abbey CBS of Newry squared off in an U15.5 schools game this afternoon, and it finished with the most dour scoreline you are likely to see.
Abbey CBS, clearly fearing their opponents who had scored 6-32 in their previous two games, decided to go with an ultra defensive system for this one. They withdrew all 15 players inside their own '45, attempting to suck their opponents in before hitting them on the counter.
However, Maghera were well aware of the tactics being employed, and simply played keep-ball. Despite Maghera's refusal to carry the ball into a packed defence, St Pat's refused to budge out of their formation. It resulted in farcical scene like this for much of the match:
@Abbey_CBS desecrating the game today in a Brock Cup (u15) schools game v @StPatsMaghera. Played with all 15 inside the 45 for 50mins. Pushed up in last 10. HT 0-2 to 0-0. FT St Pats 0-2 Abbey 0-1. Stomach churning for all great abbey teams & past players pic.twitter.com/s6acftS9lR
— Joe Brolly (@JoeBrolly1993) March 1, 2019
You'd have to agree with Joe Brolly in this case in fairness. When all was said and done, the match had finished 0-2 to 0-1, in one of the most farcical games we have seen in a long while. You can't really blame the attacking team here, as they are just playing the game in front of them, but the coaches of Abbey CBS have a lot to answer for.
While there is something to be said for setting your team up to win, resorting to tactics such as these in a game featuring 14 and 15-year olds is lunacy. It does nothing for player development, and even less for those who committed to watching the game.
Unfortunately, incidents like this are becoming all the more common. Something needs to be done, and the question needs to be asked, how far must we descend into madness before changes are made?