GAA Football

Pitch incursions should be banned: Poacher

PITCH incursions by anyone other than medical staff should be outlawed, believes Steven Poacher.

Much conversation has surrounded the role of the Maor Foirne in recent years, with Dublin hurling coach Greg Kennedy actually stopping play by catching the ball to deny Kilkenny a goal-scoring opportunity in their Leinster SHC match.

Tony McEntee's sideline role when involved with Mayo was also highlighted, while Dublin's footballers have Jason Sherlock coming on into the middle of the pitch at almost every break in play.

Poacher, who has been known to fulfil the same role for Carlow, has previously been vocal about his belief that the incursions by Dublin's management and medical team are orchestrated to affect play, feels that the practice should be outlawed.

“Pot, kettle, black from me, but I think it should be banned. I know a lot of people will laugh at that, but I'm only doing what I'm allowed to do.

“90 per cent of the time you're in to give players instructions, but times you're in to play the candyman and delay the play a wee bit or whatever, and that's within the rules.

“I don't think it should be allowed. Is there much need for it? It could easily be taken out of the game. You don't see it in soccer. The only people allowed on the pitch in rugby are the medical people. There's no need for it in the game.

“Dublin are completely orchestrated in what they do. Their game-management is on a different scale. The physio and doctor are the fittest and fastest I've seen in my life.

“The John Wooden saying, the little things make the big things happen. All these little things added up. Sherlock's the master of it, he's never off the field.”

But the Down native also believes that the five-in-a-row chasing champions' approach to in-game management has become a growing factor in their unprecedented success.

Poacher sees obvious similarities between professional teams and what Dublin are doing in terms of how their sideline operates during games.

“You can bet your bottom dollar Dublin are getting video analysis at half-time. Jim Gavin's sitting watching an iPad in-game – how many managers are getting access to that sort of analysis?

“That's come from professional sport, and Dublin are probably the only side with access to that in-play stats and analysis.

“If you watch them in the Roscommon game, Jim Gavin's watching a laptop. I watched Spurs v United pre-season the other night and after one of the goals, Pochettino sits in the dugout with an iPad and watches a replay of it, and he's putting his hand in the air as if to say ‘that's shocking defending from us'. He's watching an instantaneous replay.

“The only manager, the only team, I've seen doing that in Gaelic football is Dublin. Gavin spent most of the first half of the Roscommon game looking at an iPad and not watching the game in real play. That's mental, different level stuff.

“You can bet if there's a hole found in their press, he's looking at the iPad and saying to Jason Sherlock ‘get on the field and tell Brian Howard to move into that space'. They're getting that level of analysis in-play, which is frightening.”

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