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07th Mar 2023

“I don’t want my keeper coming out” – Full back Faulkner no fan of sweeper keeper tactic

Niall McIntyre

“I don’t believe in positions,” said Mickey Harte recently.

“The only place you see positions is in the match programme,” he continued. “I don’t believe we have backs and forwards or anything else — we have footballers.”

Traditionalists were up in arms.

Padraig Faulkner may be a traditionalist, maybe not, but one thing he definitely is, without a doubt, is a versatile player. Full back for Cavan, the Kingscourt stars man could be seen anywhere from the full back line out to midfield for his club.

In that sense, he’s well placed to discuss positions and their importance and Faulkner admits that, the way football is now played, he does see some logic to Harte’s comments.

“You have to adapt,” says Faulkner at an Allianz League event.

“You have to be able to move yourself around the pitch.

“At the weekend, playing a defensive team (Down) that drop maybe 13/14 men behind the ball at any one time, that kind of brought us out of the full back line.

“So we obviously had to adapt, and be able to play in more of a forward position…Although I did get some stick after the game for my shooting.”

“But look, Mickey is probably right in that statement in that your man-marker might have to do a different job the next day out for example or an inside forward – it’s something we’re priding ourselves on in the League games so far – that our inside forwards have high turnovers and they’re putting huge pressure on backs coming out with it.

“That’s to try and make them to make mistakes higher up the pitch. So yeah, you do have to be adaptable in the modern game.”

Harte’s comments came on the back of his implementation of a ‘sweeper-keeper’ style tactic in Louth, but that’s one aspect of Gaelic football that Faulkner can’t agree with him on.

“I don’t want my keeper coming out, and I think Ray (Galligan) is happy enough not to be coming out too far as well.

“Albeit, the keeper is a great option if you’re penned in from a high press, but I don’t want to be seeing the keeper trying to score from play. That’s my own opinion.

“Ray’s there to come up and kick over the frees for us every so often, but I don’t want to see him running back trying to do an eighty yard sprint to get back into the goals.

“Now he has made 10 or 20 appearances out the field, in full forward, so he has a nice wee mix of both.”

Ethan Rafferty is probably the best example of a sweeper keeper in the modern game but having seen Roscommon’s sweeper keeper punished against Mayo punished, Faulkner won’t be encouraging Ray Galligan to take a similar path.

As for the League, Cavan are five from five in Division Three and well on course to make it two titles in a row. Winning Division Three won’t guarantee them a place in the All-Ireland series so they may end up in the Tailteann Cup again and while Faulkner that is a slightly ‘annoying’ quirk of the system, he’s not too bogged down by it.

“This year we can’t guarantee with a league final win that you will be in the All-Ireland series, but all we want is to get promotion to Division Two. That was our sort of medium goal at the start of the year – it is all we have focused on so far.

“We addressed that at the start of the season to be fair. Look we just have to get to an Ulster final to guarantee our place. It is a bit annoying, but we’re not dwelling on it. We’ll just set our sights on the League first and after that, focus on our championship campaign.”

Having made 96 appearances for Cavan, the 29-year-old is closing in on the tonne. He pays tribute to past coaches and team-mates for helping him along the way.

“That would be a serious achievement,” Faulkner says. “For any player to play 100 performances for the county.

“Just looking at the panel we have at the minute, we have myself coming up, Jason McLoughlin is coming up to it very soon too, Killian Clarke, Killian Brady, Gearoid (McKiernan), Ray (Galligan), Marty (Reilly) – a lot of lads have clocked up 100 performances for the county.

“It is a serious achievement, it is a credit to past managers, strength and conditioning coaches, and entire panels that lads are playing for so long and really sticking to it.”

ctured is Cavan Senior footballer, Padraig Faulkner, who has today teamed up with Allianz Insurance to look ahead to the upcoming Allianz Football League fixtures. For only the second time ever, the outcome of the Allianz Football League has a direct impact on qualification for the GAA All Ireland Senior Football Championship, heightening interest in the competition.

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Cavan GAA