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18th Jun 2021

Brendan Devenney passionately disagrees with Dublin’s style of football

Lee Costello

“Why do they revert into this shell of a tactical formation? I just can’t get my head around it.”

Is just winning enough, or is the manner in which you win important?

Managers and coaches will certainly tell you that it’s all about “getting over the line” or just “getting the job done”, but for certain teams, there might be more to it than simply defeating their opponents.

Donegal’s Brendan Devenney is of the belief that if you’re in a side that is capable of opening up other teams, and destroying the opposition, then it is your team’s responsibility to do that. Otherwise they’re just cruising for the sake of it, and it’s a bad advertisement for our game.

Nobody can question that Dublin are the best team in Ireland right now after winning six All-Ireland titles on the bounce. They are heads and shoulders above most teams, with Kerry maybe being the only exception, but Devenney believes that against Donegal last weekend, they deliberately held back.

“You talk about football, about winning teams and the best team that probably ever played the game – they’re playing a weakened Donegal team who, really, are looking at the Ulster championship,” the St Eunan’s man told the GAA Hour.

“Dublin are seven points up and the full 15 fall inside the 45. I despise blanket defence, you can say Donegal played it, that’s alright, I played for them, I’m a Donegal man, but I hate blanket defence.

“If I’m looking at the talent that Dublin have on that pitch and the ease at which they were exposing Donegal – why do they revert into this shell of a tactical formation? I just can’t get my head around it.”

Colm Parkinson was also on the show, but he was more understanding of Dublin’s decision to be that little bit more conservative in their approach to this particular game.

“My point is – they’re playing a team that’s doing the same thing, so Dublin’s kind of view on that is: ‘We will beat you at whatever game you want to come at us with,’ said Parkinson.

“So if you start doing that kind of thing, we will do it at the other side, we will do it much better than you and we’re winning All-Irelands, six in a row, by doing this.

“Where’s their motivation to change that?”

Of course, the former Donegal forward wasn’t going to leave it at that: “There is a bigger picture out there and people are so quick to look to that of course; six All-Irelands, the best team that’s ever played the game etc.

“You look at the best teams who play the best sports around the world, do you think if the All Blacks were playing Ireland in a World Cup they would go; ‘Okay Ireland, you’re playing this formation, we’re going to copy you’ – no they wouldn’t.

“They would go out and tear them apart, so would the likes of a Man City, when they’re playing, say, a Crystal Palace. Do they go; ‘Do you know what? You’re going to put 10 men behind the ball, inside your half, so we’re going do the same?’ – No they don’t.

“So why does the best team in the country by a long way, revert to them tactics? Surely it’s on them to go and express themselves as footballers. Go and open up and actually take Donegal apart, rather than sitting on a massive lead and almost sitting in their shell.

“I’ll never get my head around that, but then I like the expressive side of the game. I like teams going out and stamping their authority on it. Why would Dublin morph into a tactic that a Donegal team, that was just trying to protect themselves, use?

“There’s a bigger picture in sport in terms of how it’s played and promoting the skills of the game, and you’re not seeing that when your whole team is stuck inside the 45.”

Listen to the full discussion on the GAA Hour now

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