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Too safe I salute All-Ireland Club Champions Kilcoo - but the game was a borefest

"It was safety-first, slow-tempo, possession-based football with players terrified of giving the ball away"

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Kilcoo are the archetypal GAA community club

Kilcoo are the archetypal GAA community club

Ryan Johnston is one of seven players from the related Branagan and Johnston familes

Ryan Johnston is one of seven players from the related Branagan and Johnston familes

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Kilcoo are the archetypal GAA community club

It was another example of this kind of 'bastardised basketball' we have witnessed all season

So, the 'Team of Us' lost in Paris last weekend.

Of course, they're not really the 'Team of Us'.

The marketing gurus over-egged the omelette by claiming 'this is rugby country', with the ridiculous notion that the nation comes to a standstill when the Ireland rugby team play.

But, hell, what's wrong with a bit of overhype. It's what the advertising industry is built on.

Actually, the real 'Team of Us' won last weekend. I'm referring, of course, to Kilcoo Eoghan Ruadh, the newly-crowned All-Ireland club football champions.

Every GAA community can identify with Kilcoo, because they are the archetypal rural-based GAA club.

The team is backboned by two related families - the Branagans and the Johnstons - who between them supplied seven first-team players.

The club provide the glue that keeps the Kilcoo community together and gives the area its identity.

Even though the novel 'Knocknagow' was published in 1879, the words of its author Charles Kickham resonate as much now as they did then.

Just like Matt the Thrasher, the fictional hero in Knocknagow, the Kilcoo squad did it 'for the credit of the little village'.

Real sport is all about love, passion and pride in wearing the jersey of the local team.

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It is a million miles removed from the gimmicks portrayed in marketing campaigns.

So, I salute Kilcoo.

Though I thoroughly dislike their style of football, I admire what they have achieved.

The support play, the injection of pace and the quick hands they use in the final third of the field is first-class.

Essentially, sport is about winning and securing silverware.

The Andy Merrigan Cup will be resident in Kilcoo for the next year. There is no need to say another word.

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Kerry coach Paddy Tally

Kerry coach Paddy Tally

Kerry coach Paddy Tally

If Kerry's new coach Paddy Tally (inset) devises an even uglier version of Jimmy McGuinness' game plan and it brings Sam back to Kerry in July, nobody will complain down here.

The funny thing about the club final is that Kilcoo were second best for most of the game against Kilmacud Crokes.

They won because of their team spirit, never-say-die attitude and self-belief.

Though I despise the term, I acknowledge they stuck to the process and it worked.

For 50 minutes, the game was a borefest.

It was safety-first, slow-tempo, possession-based football with players terrified of giving the ball away.

Of course, we shouldn't have been surprised.

It was just another example of the kind of 'bastardised basketball' we have witnessed in the club championship all season.

The mantra from GAA hierarchy is the organisation is focused on looking after club players who make up 95 per cent of its adult players.

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Ryan Johnston is one of seven players from the related Branagan and Johnston familes

Ryan Johnston is one of seven players from the related Branagan and Johnston familes

Ryan Johnston is one of seven players from the related Branagan and Johnston familes

Maybe they should take a closer look at the type of game they are being forced to play.

It is not pretty to put it mildly. Virtually every team sets up the same way.

Everything is focused on being defensively sound and nothing - not even scoring - is more important than preventing turnovers.

In every dressing room now, the key statistic dissected at half-time is turnovers.

Every team worth its salt has a statistician - actually most have a team of statisticians who compile these figures and they are repeated ad nauseam at half-time.

Their word is sacred. Dare I suggest, they have become much too powerful and their role needs to be defined.

Have coaches lost sight of the basic fact, it is still the team that scores the most that wins?

Such is the nature of Gaelic football that most scores originate with a turnover.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why turnovers are now the be-all and end-all of Gaelic football.

But this modern plague means no player will take risks and kick the ball.

Instead, we have endless repetition of the ball being recycled, via three-metre hand passes, to colleagues.

Solutions, such as restricting the number of consecutive hand passes, making it illegal to pass the ball backwards over the halfway line, or the introduction of a shot-clock have been suggested.

Such measures won't get rid of the blanket defence, and worse still will increase the workload on already over-burdened referees.

I favour the positive approach - make it more rewarding to take risks by awarding two points for a shot that goes over the bar from beyond the 40m line and doubling the value of a goal to six points.

The club championship has now been put to bed until next August - though it is more likely to be September until it is up and running in most counties.

Don't forget, though, that from then on, for the rest of 2022, this will be this kind of unappetising GAA fare which will be aired live on television.

It is the equivalent of Sky Sports showing the Premier League for six months - and then showing nothing but League One and League Two for the rest of the year.

Of course, it wouldn't happen in a million years.

As I have repeatedly said, the GAA is cutting off its nose to spite its face.

Hopefully it will prove to be a one-year experiment.

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