Donal Óg sums up John McGrath's elusive brilliance best 4 months ago

Donal Óg sums up John McGrath's elusive brilliance best

Speed will make the ground disappear but it won't make defenders disappear.

At inter-county level anyway, nine out of ten players will have moderate and surviving levels of pace. To get away from them then, attacking players will need something else, something elusive.

Only John McGrath knows where he's going to next.

The ability to make a quick change of thought and direction is more effective than break-neck and direct speed on its own and John McGrath's game is based on clever foot-work and economical use of his own body. That's why marking him, is a defender's nightmare.

Spotting space is a key part of elusivity. A defender can only be so big in the wide open spaces of a GAA pitch and when McGrath dips and duck under and around them, while running towards the goals, it's an unstoppable challenge for even the quickest of defenders to face.

When he gets ball in hand, John McGrath is virtually unstoppable.

This is without the blinding pace that many deem essential for a modern day hurling forward but like David Clifford, McGrath is foot perfect. Every step has a purpose.

Take this point in the Munster Championship against Cork in 2018. Two dummies, fast feet, three defenders scattered.

Or this point in this year's opening night of the League against Limerick. Richie English and Dan Morrissey are no slouches but they had no answer. McGrath left English for dead and even used Morrissey to propel him forward.

Spatial awareness exhibit A. McGrath goes to where the space is.

On Sunday, McGrath delivered yet another exhibition of forward play in the Tipperary jersey, scoring 2-1 from play against Galway in a blistering first half. Again, it wasn't the pace but the touch and the clever turns. For his second goal, the man had anticipated and read the play so much quicker and so much better than those around him, that he even had time to stand up and make sure of the goal, even though Galway had four defenders in their penalty area.

None of them were near hooking distance.

And speaking on The Sunday Game, Donal Óg Cusack explained the brilliant technicalities of John McGrath's play best.

"John McGrath being highlighted as a top-class forward is nothing new," he began. But Tipp went in, seven points up at half-time and John was the main reason, and the main difference between the teams in the first half.

"He doesn't strike me as a guy that's going to win the 100mts in the Olympics right, but he's got a really interesting way of losing his markers. He's really elusive," added the Cork man insightfully.

"Catching the hurley short at all-times, in anticipation of getting hooked, even 60 yards out with a short stroke - he's an example to any young, aspiring forward as to how to use the stick..."

How to use the stick, how to use the feet, John McGrath has mastered both aspects. From a personal perspective, having watched on helplessly as the Loughmore-Castleiney man scored 2-14 against us in a club challenge game, it's very clear how important they are.