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Darran O'Sullivan: "The best footballers aren’t the best players any more."

The Kerry attacker is unsure if the changing styles in Gaelic Football are a positive move for the game.

Darran O'Sullivan of Kerry in action in the recent All-Ireland semi-final.
Darran O'Sullivan of Kerry in action in the recent All-Ireland semi-final.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

KERRY FOOTBALLER DARRAN O’Sullivan insists he would prefer to lose with his county sticking to their traditional football principles rather than conforming to the defensive and tactical style that is becoming more prevalent in the modern game.

O’Sullivan and his Kerry teammates saw their 2012 campaign grind to a halt with last Sunday week’s All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Donegal and while the Glenbeigh-Glencar attacker is adamant that his comments are not sour grapes, he does reason that ‘the best footballers aren’t the best players any more’.

“It’s football and I don’t know is it being played in the right way. People will take that up as sour grapes and that we can’t move with the times. People will say you’re only slating Donegal but I have a lot of respect for them. They are a good team and they have brought their game to a whole new level. Their fitness was phenomenal the last day.

“The only reason I play football is because I enjoy it. I couldn’t see me playing with another county that plays less free-flowing football. I wouldn’t enjoy being told to stay back. That’s not what I do.  I would rather see a game 22 points to 21 with good scores.

“I would always maintain that Kerry would pick their best footballers because that is the way it is.  The Kerry public are demanding that way. They want football played the right way and I don’t think they would accept it if that changed and that is fair enough. I would agree with that because I am a Kerry fan at the end of the day as well.”

“But the game has changed. The best footballers aren’t the best players any more. The best players are the guys who can run and run. If you look at players nowadays, they are pure athletes. The basic skills are being let behind a small bit. I’m not saying anything bad. It’s about winning; do it whatever way you can. But from a spectator’s point of view I can’t imagine it’s the nicest thing to watch having so many men behind the ball.

“Wing-forward is a very hard place to play at the moment. It is very demanding, physically. There are not many wing-forwards that play 70 minutes all the time. You have to be extremely fit. I love training with Kerry. Playing the games is a bit different, it’s gone very tactical now which is fine but it’s more about spoiling now. A lot of teams go out more to stop teams rather than playing themselves.”

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As regards the outcome of this year’s championship, O’Sullivan feels Cork are best placed to triumph.

“I just think Cork are the best team out there. At the moment they are the only team who can do both. They can do the running game and the kicking game. But if Donegal won I wouldn’t be one bit surprised.”

O’Sullivan was speaking yesterday in Croke Park at the launch of Ulster Bank GAA Force is an initiative which supports local GAA clubs across the country by offering them the chance to win support packages to refurbish and upgrade their facilities. The overall winner will receive a package worth €25,000, with four runners up (one from each province) receiving € 5,000 each. Ulster Bank, Official Sponsor of the GAA Football All-Ireland Championship, is now calling on clubs to register for this year’s competition on www.ulsterbank.com/gaa.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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