YOUR VIEW: FROM DR DECLAN PATTON, BLANCHARDSTOWN, DUBLIN:
“The GAA football community awoke this week to a world that would never be the same again. Throughout media outlets, chaste GAA pundits were engaging in soundbyte-driven analysis of an impending Armageddon.
What they were really saying was how the upstarts from Donegal dared to step out of line, and God forbid put another northern dent into the traditional footballing prowess of counties from the deep south and their apologists.
Over the past decade, northern football has led the way in new and better GAA coaching techniques and match strategies. Having to implement these new ways of playing in the boiling pot of the Ulster Football Championship has ensured that Ulster teams have met with great success at all levels.
All the while, the southern-based pundits and associated hangers-on have developed an argument based on the equation that the purity of Gaelic football was being eroded by Machiavellian northerners, who dared to think outside the box in the most sinful way.
I oppose what I call the ‘neo-conservative purity position’ on two grounds.
First, rather than being deadly transgressions of anything normal, the tackling and defensive strategy employed by Donegal, and indeed Dublin, last Sunday is an art in itself. Just as being able to kick with both feet is an essential GAA skill, so is being able to tackle.
Indeed, tackling is the great leveller in GAA football, as it gives ammunition to the not-as-gifted to stand shoulder to shoulder with a more skilled opponent. Likewise, the defensive duvet employed by Donegal is another new departure, which is clearly an innovative template for other traditionally weaker teams to use.
My second point relates to the fact that Donegal have been the most derided and laughed at team in GAA circles over the last decade. Not a championship passes without smug remarks being made about the non-winning capabilities of Donegal footballers.
Now, as things have changed and a new threat is possibly emerging from the northern shadows, the high priests of the GAA are falling over themselves calling foul on the cheeky pups from the northwest. Listening to the Donegal manager on Sunday evening, followers of innovation and change in the GAA would have warmed to the fact that rather than agree with the annoying analysts cosied up in the nearby television studio, he simply reminded everyone that Donegal will see ye next time folks.”
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