Déise Óg Waterford recorded a fascinating coaching workshop with Tipperary coach Eamon O’Shea on the principles of attacking hurling.
The former Tipp boss and current Performance Director with Liam Sheedy’s squad delivered the session in 2016 at a Déise Óg South East Coaching Workshop in Ballygunner GAA Club.
During the session, O’Shea outlines his principles of creating space, skill development, technical excellence and scoring from optimal positions.
“It’s about simplicity. The quicker the ball comes in… you don't want half-backs playing around on the ball if these lads are moving. You want movement. And nobody caring who scores the goal.”
He takes a group of underage players through a series of drills and games without using a single cone.
“I don't use cones. They have to decide what space is. Because usually they don’t put cones on pitches, thankfully.”
And after one of the players obliges when O’Shea asks him to point from a difficult angle on the sideline, the Kilruane MacDonaghs clubman points out the contradiction in the way supporters and even coaches see games.
“He’ll put the point over one out of 10 times and people will say he’s a genius. ‘Did you see the point from the sideline, some score’.
“And we forget the seven times he didn’t score.
“Whereas the guy over here (in front of the goal), he’ll miss once and score nine and people will say ‘did you see the one he missed, in front of the goal?’.
“But this is where the action is, where the goals happen, where you have to use whatever creativity you have.
“If you’re shooting from out there, I wonder… And they all love to shoot from out there. You come out training and you have lads trying to score from the corner flag. But when will they do that?”
Any Tipperary teams he has coached have been prolific goalscorers. O’Shea believes the first key principle is enjoyment.
“I like sound. That sound that permeates your swing, our brain, the really nice feeling of striking the ball well.
“Don’t underestimate the sound. Don't underestimate as a forward the imperceptible sound of a net shaking. That’s what forwards carry with them. Backs can't hear it, forwards can hear it. Work on the sound as part of the visualisation, as part of the culture you’re trying to create.
“It works, You don’t need a psychologist. Get them into that feeling of wanting to score. That feeling, that sound, those senses. It’s the senses that dictate how they will play and how enjoyable they find it.”
Ultimately, O’Shea came up just short of becoming an All-Ireland winning manager when Hawkeye ruled John O’Dwyer’s late free wide in the drawn 2014 All-Ireland final.
And he warns coaches not to let defeat get between them and their principles.
“It takes a long time, a long long time. That belief in yourself as a coach, don’t give up on it.
“It doesn’t always work. You’ll have a little more failure than success, but the ability to stay going and believe in what you do is really critical, particularly when you are working on a thing you believe in.”