GAA Football

People looking in the wrong direction when criticising Fermanagh: Tomas O Se

Eoin Donnelly's goal was the difference between Fermanagh and Monaghan earlier this month

FORMER Kerry star Tomas O Se says Fermanagh’s style of football “isn’t pretty” – but reaching their first Ulster final in 10 years will do wonders for the Erne County.

Rory Gallagher’s side have been criticised in some circles for playing overly defensive football, particularly in upsetting Monaghan in the semi-finals earlier this month.

However, O Se shifts the blame onto Fermanagh’s opponents for not being able to overcome their defensive system. Leinster minnows Carlow also received criticism for the way in which they took Kildare’s scalp in the provincial series.

“Why would people blame Fermanagh? I would blame Monaghan,” said O Se.

“I wouldn’t blame Carlow either. I would blame Kildare. If you can’t beat a defensive set-up, stop complaining about the way they’re playing.”

Former Derry footballer and GAA pundit Joe Brolly has consistently criticised the product being produced, particularly in the Ulster Championship.

In his Irish Independent column, Brolly wrote: “The whole point of Ulster coaching is to make Gaelic football boring.

“At the moment, the senior county coaches have managed to reduce excitement to a couple of minutes per game, which just isn't good enough. These lads are training six times a week, ten months of the year and this is the best a coach can offer?”

He continued: “I have listened carefully to the criticisms of my footballing philosophy, and I have come to the conclusion that these Ulster coaches are correct. It is irrelevant how the game is played. It is irrelevant that forwards have become irrelevant. It is irrelevant that there is no longer a spectacle. The crucial thing is to make the game as boring as possible for everyone. And the bottom line is that, as of June 2018, it is not boring enough.”

O Se’s native Kerry eased to a handy Munster Championship win over Clare, racking up 32 points in Fitzgerald Stadium.

“You look at Kerry versus Clare. Clare went down to Kerry and were beaten by 22 points,” O Se explained.

“They went man-to-man. And this was a Clare team that was competitive in Division Two. You can’t have it both ways.

“You have the purists who say it’s better playing open football. But what is winning doing for Fermanagh? Fermanagh are rising. It’s lifting the spirit in the county, it’s rising the spirit of young fellas, it’s rising the profile of inter-county players in the county and it’s rising the profile of Gaelic football.”

Monaghan mustered just five points from open play in 70 minutes of football against the Ernemen with Conor McManus being limited to five scores from placed balls.

Fermanagh hit the same tally from open play (1-2) with their all-important goal coming in the closing stages of the semi-final in Healy Park.

“The game Fermanagh play isn’t pretty to watch,” O Se acknowledged.

“In their defence, they cleaned Monaghan out in midfield. The real story around the middle of the field was that Fermanagh won most of the breaking balls. Fermanagh won a couple of clean catches.

“Monaghan didn’t win one breaking ball around the middle of the park. That’s the strengths that Fermanagh have. Other counties would die for that. It’s not Rory Gallagher’s problem. He’s achieved what he’s achieved. It was Monaghan’s problem that they didn’t put them away.”

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