herald

Monday 18 December 2017

'Bored na Moana' by parking the bus

Two Westmeath players have their entire half to themselves in last Sunday’s Leinster SFC quarter-final against Offaly in Tullamore.
Two Westmeath players have their entire half to themselves in last Sunday’s Leinster SFC quarter-final against Offaly in Tullamore.

Today's Leaving Cert paper: "The state of Gaelic football today - discuss." You've got a blank canvas. Or even the blank half of a football field.

Our, ahem, panoramic view of O'Connor Park was taken during the second half of last Sunday's Leinster SFC stalemate, ending 0-10 apiece, between Offaly and Westmeath.

Plucked from social media, our photo reveals an almost entirely empty half, populated by Westmeath 'keeper Darren Quinn and a solitary 'sweeper' who, contrary to rumour, is not checking his Twitter account.

Not that it would have made any difference, given the paucity of Offaly attackers as the hosts dug in to defend their half even while propelled by a semi-gale.

Speaking of tweets, the official Westmeath GAA twitter account caused a few ripples last Sunday, mid-game, when it decried it all as "garbage from both sides. Horrible to watch".

Death by hand-passing

Westmeath, it must be said, were equally ultra-cautious when backed by the first half elements. And the prevailing conservatism has fuelled the national angst-ridden debate about blanket defences and how death by hand-passing is proving a major turn-off for fans.

That debate hasn't gone away, even as supporters wonder if tomorrow's replay at TEG Cusack Park will be worth the hassle, let alone the admission fee.

Cue the following appeal from Westmeath PRO Aidan Walsh that his county revert to the positive, attractive brand of football that marked their Division 4-winning league campaign, rather than the "turgid stuff" of last Sunday.

In his Westmeath GAA jottings (courtesy of the Westmeath Independent) Walsh doesn't shy away from calling it as he sees it.

"Westmeath, in my opinion, are better when playing attacking football so please, when the analysis of Sunday's game is done, go back to that style as the stuff on Sunday was hard to stomach," he writes.

"Apologies in advance if these thoughts offend anyone, but Westmeath have plenty of very talented footballers so why not utilise the talents to their best potential. Is that a forlorn hope? I certainly hope not," he continued

We'll know more by tomorrow.

Both protagonists have promised a different and more free-flowing sequel, but it will be intriguing to see if supporters believe them. The attendance last Sunday was 8,723, eclipsing the 8,123 that watched last summer's Mullingar meeting. What odds a significant drop?

In the meantime, our intrepid photographer posted some helpful advice in his caption.

"Just found the perfect place to spread turf at Bord na Móna Park," he suggests.

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