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Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 26 January 2021

Spillane claims weaker counties 'being forgotten about', while Whelan wants 13-a-side game trialled

Both men appeared on The Sunday Game last night.

PAT SPILLANE WAS critical of the GAA’s treatment of the weaker counties on The Sunday Game last night, claiming they’ve been “forgotten about” while the “strong are getting stronger.”

fsd Source: RTÉ

The Kerry legend voiced his sympathy for Tipperary footballers, who face Cork in the Munster semi-final on Saturday just six days after their quarter-final win over Waterford.

Liam Kearns blasted the Munster CCC after his team saw off the Deise by 11 points, calling the situation “an absolute disgrace.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s highlight show last night, Spillane said: “People will say out there on social media that we should be giving much more coverage to these smaller games and the minnows and that we’ve got rid of them, but we’re only reflecting what’s happening in the GAA world.

“What we’re reflecting is the fact that the weaker counties aren’t getting the respect they deserve.

“There were three matches not played in Division 4. Limerick didn’t play their last match, Waterford didn’t play their last match. Could you imagine that would happen with Dublin or Kerry or Tyrone? It would not.

“Waterford and Limerick play again on 9 June. Say they get a bad draw, one of the big teams and they get beaten. That means their two championship games are played in three weeks and on 9 June, ‘Goodbye.’

“Wickow? Wicklow should be playing at home in Aughrim against Dublin, but for money it’s being moved elsewhere.

“The bottom line is that in the GAA sadly at the moment, it’s about money, it’s about earning money, the strong are getting stronger and the weak are just being forgotten about.”

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Spillane and Ciaran Whelan also debated how best to steer the game away from defensive football, with the former Dublin midfielder suggesting a reduction in the number of players on the field.

“We’ve just taken a snapshot of the four provinces over the last couple of weekends and the defensive system is alive and well,” said Whelan. “It’s been part of our game since 2011. I can understand the merits and the effectiveness of it. It’s our job to analyse it but it’s destroying our game in terms of entertainment.

“Every team is doing it. We’ve had different solutions proposed over the last few years – do you have so many men in your own half, do you limit the amount of handpasses, do you put the kick-out beyond the 45? All those solutions are difficult to implement down the levels of club football and are difficult for referees (to keep track of).

“I think we’ve got to a stage where the levels of conditioning and fitness are so high, we’ve too many players on the pitch. We want to let players express themselves again. I want to see the top forwards getting space, the skills coming back into the game. Maybe we should look at trialling 13-a-side.”

Spillane didn’t agree with Whelan and said more forward coaches need to be brought in to teach proper attacking play.

“The smaller teams aren’t being coached. Mick O’Dwyer used to say, ‘Never look at the O’Neills (logo) on the ball. Play with the head up.’ If you’re playing with the head up, you have awareness of where your own team-mates are and where the opposition are. You’re picking holes and looking for space, because there is still space there. It’s a big area.”

Whelan responded: “I can’t believe you’re defending the blanket defence. I never thought I’d see the day.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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