"At training, Ian Burke would be roaring 'keep four up'" - busting the myth about Galway 2 years ago

"At training, Ian Burke would be roaring 'keep four up'" - busting the myth about Galway

The knives are often out for Kevin Walsh.


Critics go to town on Galway's overly defensive system. They say the Tribesmen have no forward plan.

The sight of a game-changing forward a la Ian Burke, Comer or Shane Walsh isolated inside admittedly, is an unwelcome one but Galway stalwart Sean Armstrong, who was in the panel up until last year, is adamant that Kevin Walsh is doing his level best to ensure the team have enough men up the field when at all possible.

Ian Burke makes full sure of it.

"I know at training last year in particular we would try to keep four (forwards) up and at training, Ian Burke would be roaring 'keep four up!' because he needs that link man - that's when he's on fire, that's when he's getting those 30 yard passes in spaces and then he's lethal," said Armstrong at the GAA Hour Live in Roscommon.

"It's extremely one-dimensional (otherwise) You're either going to get a hoof of a long ball or it's a patient build-up where you're just going on the loop. If you have an anchorman on the 50, and if he gets the ball, you can go left you can go right or switch with the lad beside you, then you're getting the ball in a dangerous area..."

That's when inside forwards like the Corofin dynamo make hay. The best laid plans often go awry however and in Galway's case, that's when the opposition defenders drag the Galway forwards out of the danger zone.

"Then you've Comer another option to float it in high to him and then you've Shane Walsh on the 50 as well. We have deadly forwards in Galway but, the way the game has gone now - this counter-attacking, there's lads bombing and even though you're trying as much as you possibly can to leave two up there and to have a target man up front if you do have a break - but if you're marking a corner back and you don't track them, you're going to get an earful."


That's the other side of it. And while Kevin Walsh takes some flak over it, Armstrong admits that Walsh would often encourage players to stay up, and was displeased last year when they dropped too deep against Roscommon in the first half of the Connacht decider last year.

"Galway were getting annihilated when Kevin first came in. If you want to build a house, you've to build a good foundation and what Kevin did was he built a defence. But he is trying to get the balance right, I know that for a fact but he is trying to play the attractive football that Galway are renowned for..."

"I remember Kevin at half-time in Hyde Park last year, they were kicking points for fun because we were coming back so deep. Kevin was roaring at us 'you have to push out.'"

It all comes back to those marauding defenders, the men who drag the dangerous forwards out.

"This is the thing," says Wooly.

"Why don't they cheat, there's enough bodies there to pick them up. Why don't we see any counties with the corner forward going, 'I'm letting him on?"

Kerry defender Marc Ó Sé knows exactly why forwards aren't taking the risk. He recalls the 2015 All-Ireland final.


"I remember in 2015, when Dublin beat us in the final, our management came in for a lot of flak after the game because Philly McMahon was coming down the field and Gooch was marking him. Donnacha Walsh was told 'as much as you can pick him up,' and I think that's the way the modern game has gone. When I started off in '01, I just wanted to express myself, to get on the ball, to get out the field and bring him on a run as well. I felt I had as much to show as the wing back or the midfielder. If I went up the field and kicked a point, great stuff, but at the end of the day, If I went up the field and my man kicked a goal, that point is no good to you...There's an art in defending, and I think it's creeping out of our game..."

You can listen to the GAA Hour Show Live from Roscommon right here.