The long and the short of it

GAA: Tactics

Hitting his marks: David Clarke was in top form with short kick-outs last weekend. Photo: Sportsfile

Hitting his marks: David Clarke was in top form with short kick-outs last weekend. Photo: Sportsfile

While David Clarke's intervention to stop a couple of goals going past him on Saturday took plenty of deserved plaudits in an excellent display, from the kicking tee the Ballina man also had an excellent night, Mayo won all but four of the kick-outs they took against Monaghan, with Clarke quick off the tee on most of his restarts finding his men close by.

Clarke found his targets with 21 of his 25 kick-outs over the 70 odd minutes last Saturday night, by far and away he went short with his restarts whenever possible with 16 of his kick-outs going to the wings around the 21m line. In the first half he took 13 kick-outs with eight of them going short, four to the left and four to the right. With Patrick Durcan his favourite target, the Castlebar man was picked out three times from those kick outs, twice on the right and once on the left hand side. David Drake picked up two on the left hand side with Stephen Coen, Donie Newcombe, and Fergal Boland all also being picked out by Clarke's boot.

When Clarke was forced to go long after a stop in play or with Monaghan pushing up on his chose options the results were not so good. From the five kick-outs he put beyond the 45m line Monaghan won three of them, with Darren Hughes, Kieran Hughes, and Conor McManus all winning possession from a Mayo restart. The two kick-outs that Mayo won on the head when the ball was put past the 45 were claimed by Danny Kirby, with the Mitchels man being fouled in the process of winning one of those.

The second half was more of the same, with Clarke favouring short kick-outs to the left hand side on six occasions in the second half and two short ones to the right. Stephen Coen was his most used target with the Hollymount-Carramore man being picked out three times on the left around the 21m line, with Cillian O'Connor, Colm Boyle, and Kevin McLoughlin the other three men to win possession from the short ball on that side. The two short kick-outs to the right were claimed by Durcan and Fergal Boland respectively. Mayo did do better on the longer range restarts in the second half, winning the ball back three times and losing it just once. Kirby picked one in which he was fouled in the process of doing once, with Donal Vaughan and Jason Doherty claiming one each and Kieran Hughes winning one for the Farney men.

Clarke's short kick-outs were spot on on all night and this tactic worked well for Mayo over the course of the game, but when forced to go long it was not so great with Mayo only breaking even on those restarts. It will be interesting to see what will happen on Saturday night if Kerry press up on Mayo and force the longer kick-out. It of course must be noted that Mayo's starting midfield of Vaughan and Kirby are a new pairing who would not have been used to playing together as a duo and are still only getting used to Clarke's kick-outs.

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