Disrupting Model fluidity key to Limerick success

The tactical battles that will decide the games in Thurles

Disrupting Model fluidity key to Limerick success

1. Limerick must ensure they start well and shut Wexford down early on, thus depriving them of a dangerous early confidence.

Seamus Hickey should man-mark Liam Óg McGovern while operating with three in midfield would also help the Shannonsiders’ cause. James Ryan is excellent at sweeping back and then linking the play. He could drop deep, playing more or less as a double centre-back, offering cover to the full-back line but with a licence to carry the ball forward when required.

Wexford half-forwards Jack Guiney and Willie Doran come very deep to the wings when the ball is in their defence. This tactic is very important for Wexford as it provides an outlet from defence while creating space up front. Limerick’s half-backs will have to man-mark Doran and Guiney, forcing them to hit inaccurately under pressure. Disrupting Wexford’s forwards’ movement and fluid play is a prerequisite for Limerick success. But isolating defenders in ‘one on one situations’ by creating space up front is also a must. Clever, accurate and measured ball forward is needed to achieve this as long hopeful deliveries will be swept up by the eager Wexford backs.

I would play Declan Hannon at centre-forward. He has a height advantage on marker Owen Moore for puck-outs, can score from long or short range and is a creative passer of the ball.

Feeding him with short deliveries as he drops off quickly from his marker — as he did against Dublin in 2011 — is crucial. His talent will allow him do the rest.

2. Some of Wexford’s play, the controlled ball from defence, the cut and thrust and running from midfield, the clever interchange and goalscoring up front, has been superb. But 16 wides last week, 18 the week before, is an area which needs to be addressed.

Manager Liam Dunne has dismissed concerns over the tally, saying: “We are still winning”. But the higher up the ladder you climb the margin for error decreases.

Golfer Lee Trevino was fond of the saying that two things don’t last — ‘dogs that chase cars and putting for pars’.

If this finishing problem continues tomorrow this could be Wexford’s last outing of 2014. Wexford are attempting to change a culture. Players in the middle of a cultural revolution may revert to type when they come under pressure. They lean on a culture that formed them from a young age, a culture where, from street league level, enthusiasts might have ‘encouraged’ all defenders or midfielders to “belt it long” at all times, leading to HDH (Head Down Hurling).

Most of Wexford’s wides come from long range. Dunne might consider banning shots outside a certain distance or when players are under pressure or shooting from tight angles. This would encourage players to play the percentages, providing more scores and more angled deliveries to the dangerous Conor McDonald. Recycling the ball, thereby keeping the pressure on defenders has to be a major part of Wexford’s plan.

3.Dublin have done well when they employed a covering player in front of their defence, designed to deny the opposition goalscoring chances. Anthony Daly doesn’t have a goalscoring attack and relies on points to win games and keeping the scoring tally of the opposition low.

But tomorrow they face a huge task against Tipperary who have notched up big scores of late.

The first item on Anthony Daly’s agenda is Tipperary full-forward Seamus Callanan. Denying him possession is crucial. Placing Peter Kelly directly in front and having Paul Schutte behind would counteract his influence. Lar Corbett is also coming into form and will require the tightest of marking. However, it is the hounding of the opposing half-backs and midfielders that makes the crucial difference for a full-back line, as it prevents quality deliveries to the full-forwards. In the Leinster final, Dublin set up with a seven-man defence. But their deliveries from defence to midfield and forwards lacked control and accuracy and they added confusion where clarity was required. Conal Keaney and Alan McCrabbe, operating at centre-forward, were very good against Wexford in the Leinster championship. The simple tactic of centre-forward movement to the wings was used to good effect. They need to get back to their own basics but, above all, bring some much needed intensity to the occasion.

4. The advantages lie with Tipp, who are at home against a Dublin team short on confidence. Their fightback against Galway, six points down midway through the second half, was impressive. Tipperary manager Eamonn O’Shea knows his best 15 and his best replacements at this stage but if Dublin come with their A game they may present a different challenge from what they’ve experienced up to now.

Tipp like an open game, where the movement up front of Noel McGrath and John O’Dwyer, allied to the work rate and ball-winning combination of Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher can be used to good effect.

O’Shea puts a premium on option-taking and use of the ball. A forward’s life is made much more comfortable by quality deliveries from defence. If Dublin’s defensive work is high by their forwards and if they can maintain it for the duration of 75 minutes then Tipp may have to win ugly on this occasion. Anthony Daly will be aware of the threat from Tipperary’s marquee names and will surely have planned some tight marking on McGrath and O’Dwyer while plans to close down the space around midfield might also be in the blueprint. Moving the ball down the wings is one of the few ways to circumvent a tight defence while taking long-range points is another.The type of ball from the defence particularly from Brendan Maher and Cathal Barrett will be significant. It will be a test of their maturity and a good benchmark as to their present standing.

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