Tuesday Tactics: Hurling the better for possession not being nine-tenths of law

Some of us are old enough to remember the seventies and eighties and long for the way the game of football was played back then.

The game was played at a frantic pace where retaining possession was not the overriding trend.

Fast forward to the present and that off the cuff style has been banished as possession football has become the foundation stone for every team.

It has led to a mostly sterile game which has become boring as hell to watch.

In marked comparison, hurling is still a superb spectator sport.

Hurling has not lost its innocence yet and the game is still played, by and large, in a much more free flowing manner.

While hurling managers will claim the game has moved with the times, on many occasions you will still see a player making a fine catch in defence before clearing the ball down the field straight to an opponent.

Kilkenny and Clare’s clash in Nowlan Park on Sunday is a prime example of the way hurling has reached a crescendo in terms of excitement and spectacle.

There were 43 scores from 69 shots on goal, practically a shot a minute and that has become the norm in hurling. More interestingly, however, is the amount of times teams gave away possession on Sunday.

Clare for example had possession 140 times and gave it away 43 times. That equates to a 30% loss of possession or giving away the ball three out of every 10 times.

Kilkenny were a little bit more economic but they still managed to give the ball away 20% of the time.

In the other televised game Wexford were equally poor at retaining possession giving the sliotar away 22% of the time while Waterford were the best at the retaining possession with a fairly decent 17%.

Let’s compare those figures with a recent football game. For example Donegal, in their recent clash with Kerry in the Allianz League, had only eight misplaced passes and that was an off day for the northerners. While some have ventured to suggest statistics have ruined the game they can also be used in a positive way. These numbers show us hurling has never been more exciting to watch and long may the ‘golden era’ of hurling continue before managers circle the wagons and go down the football route where possession is nine tenths of the law.

While both televised games were highly entertaining on Sunday it would be fair to say Davy Fitzgerald and Liam Dunne have a lot of soul searching to do before the summer.

Wexford fluffed their lines against Waterford in front of their fans and have to settle for another season in Division 1B. Clare will be joining them there in 2016 unless they can get the better of an improving Kilkenny next weekend.


Louisa Earls is a manager at Books Upstairs, D’Olier St, Dublin, which is owned by her father, Maurice Earls.Virus response writes a new chapter for Books Upstairs

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