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Hannon: "Cavan broke out of defence better than Armagh"

Tuesday, 5th January, 2016 1:14pm


Cavan's ability to break out of defence against Armagh impressed The Anglo-Celt's football analyst Michael Hannon.

"Cavan’s ability to carry the ball from one end of the pitch to the other was clearly superior to Armagh’s. This had nothing to do with the athleticism of the individual. It was tactical," Hannon writes in this week's Mostly Football column.

"The team’s ability to consistently offer options to the man in possession was from the coaching field. More often than not, when a Cavan player had the ball he would quickly find a team-mate running ahead of him looking for the ball to be played into the space he was running into. 

"It’s the most difficult pass to prevent in Gaelic football because the guy marking the runner has completely lost sight of the ball as he tracks his opponent. He therefore he has no idea when or if the ball has been played and only sees it as it passes by him. 

"This is how Donegal are able to routinely counter-attack up the pitch, four players against seven or eight, and still manage to work the ball so close to the opposition’s 21-metre line. 

"It requires patience from the ball-carrier, to delay the pass until the support is both ahead and running away from him. It also requires confidence from the ball-carrier that he holds on to the ball against the risk of getting turned over so that he can play the pass at just the right moment. 

"To contrast the two sides last Sunday in the first half, Armagh, despite having two spare men over Cavan, were routinely faced with the scenario in the first half where, as the ball advanced up the field, their half-forward line and full-forward line all convereged in a group about 25 metres out from the goals. 

"It meant that nearly 25 players from both sides were squashed between the 21-metre line and the 45-metre line every time Armagh went to attack. 

"And yes, Cavan were playing defensively, but if by reverting to such a game plan yields an Ulster final appearance after 14 years, then I don’t think anyone in the county will bemoan such a style of football for this season. Last year’s attempts to play more expansively didn’t exactly pan out."

See tomorrow's print edition for the whole column.

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