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24th Jul 2017

Michael Duignan confusingly promotes the sweeper in anti-sweeper rant

Hold on a second, what?

Niall McIntyre

The sweeper tactic is one of the most divisive and debated topics in hurling.

Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter final meeting of Waterford and Wexford was dubbed since the minute the draw was made, as one for the purists.

Purists weren’t disappointed with how the game unfolded.

The sides of the sunny-south-east are two of the most pronounced sweeper playing sides in the country, with Tadhg De Búrca and Shaun Murphy, respectively, the most textbook sweepers in the game.

There’s an argument for and against the sweeper.

The argument for, is that your best tactic in any game is to cut your cloth to fit your measure.

Wexford, particularly, don’t have the attacking threat that the Galways and Tipperarys of today’s world have.

To compensate for this, they try to make it a tight, low scoring game, in which every score is hard-earned. The system is very reliant on point scoring, because they simply don’t have a goal threat.

In fact, on Sunday neither side had a goal-threat, as Kevin Moran’s bolt from the blue was due to a defensive mishap.

One might argue that they are going into a game with the ambition of not losing it, more than actually winning it.

But the sweeper system ensures that they are competitive, and these defensive tactics reaped dividends for them up to now.

The question is, if Wexford played fifteen on fifteen against Tipperary, Galway or even Kilkenny, who they doggedly trumped in league and Championship, without the extra man back, would they be competing better?

It’s unlikely they would.

There is more of an argument for Waterford that, if they threw the shackles off, their attack, with the likes of Pauric Mahony, Austin Gleeson and Kevin Moran up front could flourish.

Many analysts made their opinions known on their disgust with where the sweeper system is bringing the game, most notably Michael Duignan.

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald wasn’t happy with this Duignan tweet.

He called Duignan out on these comments in his post-game press conference.

The Offaly man fired back in his column with the Irish Daily Mail on Monday morning, but his argument for or against (We’re not quite sure) the sweeper system, was as self-contradictory as it was confusing.

The mantra of his article, after some analysis on our behalf, was that he was against the tactic.

His argument was based on the opinion that Galway would love to come up against a sweeper, because this forces them into playing a sweeper themselves.

He claimed that Galway enjoy having Aidan Harte operating in the sweeping role on such occasions, because he does it so well.

“Galway love coming up against the sweeper too, because they have such good hurler, and in Aidan Harte, have such an outstanding natural hurler who can play that role himself at the other end.

So Michael supports Galway’s sweeper, who admittedly doesn’t play as a sweeper every day, because Aidan Harte is such a natural hurler, but when it comes to Wexford or Waterford, “sweepers should be outlawed.”

The St Rynagh’s club man went on to label the sweeper system a “cop-out,” but claimed that in the absence of this “cop-out,” Waterford’s All-Ireland chances are nil.

“And Waterford certainly won’t win it if their sweeper, Tadhg De Búrca, is suspended for the All-Ireland semi-final.

What side are you on Michael?

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