GAA Football

'Cult of Kieran McGeeney' doesn't wash with Joe Brolly

Joe Brolly didn't hold back when it came to criticising Kieran McGeeney's management style
By Sean O'Neill

WHATEVER about the beating Armagh’s footballers took from Cavan yesterday, it paled in comparison to the absolute mauling their manager Kieran McGeeney took in the RTE studios.

After Colm O’Rourke had sized up Cavan, It was over to Joe Brolly to run the rule over Armagh. He took the opportunity to round on McGeeney immediately. “I’m not sure what his vision for the team is,” said the Derry man. “I think they’re a mess.”

The tone was set. O’Rourke proceeded to tell us that the absence of “two of the best footballers in Armagh” – namely Aaron Kernan and Jamie Clarke – “says something about Armagh itself”. We were left to guess what that might have been.

It was to get much worse. Still prior to the throw-in, Brolly offered another jibe. “This has been one of Kieran McGeeney’s failings,” he said. “Regardless of the players that are at his disposal – he uses the same system... unlike say someone like [Eamonn] Fitzmaurice or someone like Jim Gavin who tailor the system.”

When half-time arrived, with Armagh already struggling, the onslaught against McGeeney continued unabated. “Armagh for most of that half looked a bit of a mess,” said O’Rourke. “They seemed to be totally disorganised – nobody knew what they were at.”

Brolly was, however, only really beginning to warm to his theme. “It’s typical of the malaise of modern Gaelic football,” he said. “These Armagh players are segregated away from their clubs – they don’t play club football. Vast resources are poured into this. I don’t know what sort of power or personality Kieran has to be able to achieve this.

“As he did in Kildare – he’s now doing in Armagh. He seems to have... a vice grip on what happens in the county.

“To me it’s just bewildering, it’s a mess, they’re producing nothing... What is the point of this? – they swear allegiance to the cult of Kieran.

“You get eight Crossmaglen players not even on the panel because of the lack of imagination, the lack of fun in the group.”

It left one wondering – since when was county football about fun?

O’Rourke aimed another Jamie Clarke shaped arrow: “I’d say Jamie Clarke is playing tennis or something because he wouldn’t watch this sort of stuff,” he nonsensically chipped in.

When it was over, you knew that one or both pundits would administer the coup de grace. It was that sort of day and they did not disappoint. Host Michael Lyster queried whether Cavan had just been the better team. True to form, Brolly was in no mood to let up. Sure why not continue to kick a man when he’s down?

“Kieran expects absolute allegiance from his players and he attracts a certain type of player,” he said. “I have never seen a Kieran McGeeney team, either with Kildare or with Armagh winning a tight game against a good opposition – never seen it happening.

“And I think in the modern era, where the manager is extremely important and systems are very important. You’ve got a fella here who – I disagree with what Martin Carney says – I genuinely think that he hasn’t a clue about these systems and about how to play.

“He’s got a very strong personality but being a great player isn’t necessarily a qualification for being a great manager.”

In fairness, Lyster tried to offer some balance and perspective to what had become a rant.

"So are you blaming all of Armagh’s faults on Kieran McGeeney then?” asked the Galway man.

“I’m saying that’s the axis around which it all spins,” replied Brolly. 

GAA Football

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