Say a prayer for the traditional full back as possession style changes the game
You think of Kevin Kinahan. You think of Brian Lohan. You think of all of these skyscrapers of men who, all bald-headed and full of conviction, turned full back play into an art-form.
They were their team's last line of defence and it doesn't matter if it's highlights, re-runs or memories that you have of them, the one thing you know for sure is that they took that business as seriously as a guard dog minding a mansion. It wasn't the case that a corner back or a wing back might pop in for a few minutes to sample the atmosphere because this was Lohan's patch, it was Kinahan's patch and that was just the way it was. Big giant oak trees who wouldn't be shifted in a storm.
These days, it wouldn't take a dendrologist to see that the game is changing because apart from Wexford's big brute of a Liam Ryan and Kilkenny's Huw Lawlor, you'd be hard-pushed to find an out and out oak. Daithí Burke was seen as the most immovable of all the immovables but now he's out at centre back and so too is Westmeath's Tommy 'Jogger' Doyle, who talked about the changing times on this Thursday's GAA Hour Show.
"Look, the way hurling has changed, I haven’t caught many balls in many games now, I’ve dropped a few alright but you don’t get the exposure of that long ball as much (as a full back) Teams are a lot cleverer, they’re finding ways to break down defences. Some parts of it have become a possession game and teams are probably afraid to hit the ball straight into the full forward line."
"You want to be where the ball's going to land. I've played in the forwards with my club, many a time, maybe as a more defensive forward. It'd be enjoyable to play a few games up there. I've been up the field further, up at centre back the last few games and I'm enjoying the bit of freedom there. I'm probably heading in that direction, from full back to full forward hopefully. You have to take the credit that teams are trying to play around you and you just have to do the best that you can do for the team, it's not all about your own individual performance."
— Colm Parkinson (@Woolberto) July 8, 2021
"I don’t know if it’s just me but maybe teams are getting to know that my strengths is probably my height and size so I don’t get too many of them handy, floating balls in...when the ball coming in is possession based, you don't really get those 50:50 battles like you'd have got a few years ago."
Say a prayer for the Lohans and the Kinahans, who play the game for nothing else.
The art of full back playing is dying.
Tommy Doyle says teams are working the ball up the field more and sadly, the sight of a big full back lording the sky looks to be a thing of the past.
“I don’t get too many of them handy, floating balls in.” pic.twitter.com/0kDLQRee9J
— The GAA Hour (@TheGAAHour) July 8, 2021