"Do corner-backs need to be rewired?" - Conor McCarthy's hat-trick against Donegal exposes old defensive habits 4 weeks ago

"Do corner-backs need to be rewired?" - Conor McCarthy's hat-trick against Donegal exposes old defensive habits

GAA fans everywhere enjoyed a weekend full of attacking prowess, high-scoring games and a bucket load of goals.

Gone, it seems, is the era of blanket defences and complicated sweepers plugging holes across the defensive line. Defenders are defenders, midfielders are midfielders and forwards are forwards - simple.

However, as Kerry and Donegal discovered last weekend, if you want to abandon that style of play and be more traditional, then your defending needs to follow suit. Monaghan's Conor McCarthy terrorised Donegal's defence, blitzing through them to score a hat-trick in the opening 13 minutes of the game.

Speaking on The GAA Hour, Colm Parkinson believes that defenders need to change their habits: "I know Donegal are coming from a more defensive system where they have cover back, but technically this was just horrific defending by Neil McGee, who you would be surprised at.

"Eoghan Ban Gallagher is an excellent corner-back in a defensive system because he bombs forward all the time, but is he a defensive corner-back? I would say probably not.

"This thing of running for a ball and then doubling back and the corner-back not being goal-side of you, as they go up beside you; technically that's desperate, and I know we're coming out of a defensive era, but I'm wondering - do corner-backs need to be rewired again to stay goal-side, because there isn't a Colm Cavanagh on the edge of the square to come out and meet this fella?"

Colm Cavanagh, who was a master of this sweeping role in his playing days, was also on the show, and he believes that the issue might be to do with players' mindsets and reverting to type in the middle of matches.


"I think the big thing here is the shift in transition of mentality," said the Tyrone man. "Donegal and Tyrone have had a very defensive style over this last number of years to try and stifle Dublin and it just hasn't worked.

"The biggest problem that I see with Tyrone and Donegal is when you're being coached for years and years, that you can be right up behind your man and take chances because you know that there's going to be that cover there to bail you out if you slip or should something happen and the man gets in behind you.

"When trying to transition into a more attacking approach, the problem is mentality wise, defenders are used to having that cover."

The likes of Con O'Callaghan and Conor McCarthy took full advantage of this stall in the mindset at the weekend and managed to burn their markers and weave their way through in goal.

"It's very evident with McCarthy's goals, that simple jink in behind, I was watching in disbelief," continued Cavanagh. "McGee and Gallagher should have done way better.

"They're probably having a change of mindset in their camps to go back to a more traditional style of football. You're man to man, you mark your marker, no blanket in behind and you are changing your thought process."

You can listen to the full discussion on The GAA Hour now.