Nothing a goalkeeper hates more than the tennis-style smash Jack O'Connor perfected 3 months ago

Nothing a goalkeeper hates more than the tennis-style smash Jack O'Connor perfected

Michael Carton grew up in the 1990s and he remembers it like it was only yesterday, when through a forest of bodies, Offaly's John Troy broke free by stunning the ball off the ground and straight into his hand.

It was a piece of skill so daring and difficult that it was the talk of The Sunday Game for weeks and if you walked into any hurling field around the country, you'd have been watching young kids attempting to replicate the Lusmagh club-man's stroke of genius.

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These days, it'd be more of a surprise if Cian Lynch let a full game pass him by without pulling off the same move. Moments of individual brilliance are so common nowadays that Shane Bennett's brilliant drop-shot barely gets a mention, that Neil McManus' game-changing no-look pass is almost taken for granted.

Another piece of brilliance from the weekend just past was Jack O'Connor's finish, when after the Sarsfields' forward was left with no other option, he smashed the ball past Limerick goalkeeper Barry Hennessy with an over-the-head tennis-style bat. It's a finish that is becoming more and more popular in hurling with each passing year.

Colin Fennelly was one of the founders, Shane Dowling was one of the masters and one thing is for certain, it's a shot that goalkeepers, due to the unpredictability of the ball's flight and the bounce, don't like to face.

Colm Parkinson, Paul Murphy and Michael Carton talked up the tennis style finish on this week's GAA Hour Hurling Show.

"We're seeing loads of these smash goals now, they're so handy for forwards because it's almost impossible to get hooked with them," said Parkinson.

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Murphy was particularly impressed with the spin and the speed of O'Connor's effort.

"It was his only option really, to smash it because he couldn't swing back. Cian Boland did it too for Dublin. Forwards know that there are lads behind them so this is a good option because you'd be hooked otherwise. As well as that, it makes it hard for the keeper because you're throwing the ball up into the air and then you're batting it towards the ground and when it hits the ground, it could bounce up anyway because the keeper doesn't really know what's going to happen.

"The ball hit the ground and just spun in for O'Connor and that's just it again, forwards getting clever and making hard work for the auld corner backs!"

"The skill levels of this game have just gone through the roof," added Parkinson. "Players are doing things on a regular basis now that we would have been in awe of ten years ago. All of these goals and scores are of the highest level.

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Michael Carton is also taking all of the brilliance in.

"The extraordinary has become normal. I remember John Troy flicking the ball into his hands and there was so much talk about it. We're seeing that type of thing every week now. We just have to appreciate it. You rarely if ever see a bad first touch anymore."

Listen to the full show here.

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