Begley looks to life after ‘uninspiring’ McNulty

Laois forward Colm Begley has taken a parting shot at former boss Justin McNulty, claiming the northerner’s style of play was overly defensive and uninspiring.

Begley looks to life after ‘uninspiring’ McNulty

Armagh man McNulty had a chequered three-year spell in charge of the Leinster county, the high points being promotion to Division 1 of the League in 2011 and an All-Ireland quarter-final spot the following year.

But any progress achieved under the former All-Ireland-winning defender was largely thanks to a defence first policy.

McNulty’s last game in charge was this year’s Round 4 qualifier defeat by Donegal when Laois scored just eight points and only managed six from play.

Begley, who had Australian Rules stints with the Brisbane Lions and St Kilda, described the Donegal match as a particularly “horrible” one to play in.

“Players need to enjoy playing football and I didn’t enjoy playing that style of football a lot of times,” said Begley.

“The Donegal game we played up in Carrick was a horrible game to play in and I am sure it was horrible to watch too.

“Then you see Mayo and Dublin playing free flowing football and you say, ‘look, we are going to try and do that’. Yes, you do what you have to do to win but obviously if you are enjoying yourself a bit more and feel you can express yourself a bit more, you will naturally play a bit better.”

Begley says the early signs are positive under new manager Tomas Ó Flatharta who is already focusing on improving their football skills.

“I think (Ó Flatharta) sees that, like a lot of teams, we are fit and strong and there is a base there already after Barry Solan who was with us for a few years and did a great job getting us fit and strong,” continued Begley.

“So we are going to be focusing now on the football part of it, more so which we are really looking forward to. Probably we thought we were a bit too defensive over the last few years and not expressing ourselves enough. Hopefully we are going to be doing that.

“In fairness to Justin, he brought us on greatly and massively but it was probably time for him to move on and for us to get something and stir it up.”

Begley says the makeup of Ó Flatharta’s management team indicates a desire to be more creative with their play and to follow the template laid down by Dublin this year.

“He has brought in Jerome Stack as a football coach and he is supposed to be very good,” said Begley.

“I think he worked with Donie Buckley (Mayo coach), who is renowned for being a very good football coach. I’m not looking for us to be playing Brazil style football or anything. But let us play a bit more football, not be so defensively minded. Maybe drop some men back but don’t have the whole lot of us coming back and trying to run the ball out. There has to be some form of being able to pass the ball and move the ball forward. That’s my point of view.”

If Laois commit themselves to attacking football, then they will be aided by the new black card sanctions which are designed to curb cynical fouling.

Begley said his initial distrust of the black card idea has been tempered by an information seminar with a referee who explained in detail how it will all work.

But the Stradbally man identified a particular area of the new rules which he believes will be exploited by cynical players and management late on in the league.

“If someone has two black cards in the second last league game, they pick up one more and get a one-match ban — so they don’t miss any of the Championship,” said Begley.

“It’s a very sneak way to look at it. I’d say coaches who are tactically sound would probably say, ‘Listen, we’re okay in the league, we’re not going to get into the final, get a black card here’. Because if you’re in, say, a semi-final in Leinster and you get a black card, you could miss the next game. It’d be interesting to see how it plays out. We were talking about it recently, a few of the boys mentioned that.”

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