GAA Football

No stopping revolutionaries Niall Morgan and Rory Beggan

Tyrone's Niall Morgan in action against Armagh last weekend
Francis Mooney

NIALL Morgan and Rory Beggan have revolutionised the role of gaelic football’s goalkeeper, and there’s more innovation to come from the pair.

Morgan insists the adventurous approach is merely a work in progress, and the versatility of the top level ‘fly-keeper’ can break even more boundaries.

Tyrone’s Allstar number one and his Monaghan counterpart, their warm friendship tempered by a fierce competitive rivalry, went head-to-head in another intriguing battle in their opening NFL tie.

Pushing up on each other’s kick-out and pressing forward in support of the attack, they offered extra options, with Morgan going deep into opposition territory to provide an assist for a score, while Beggan went one better, overlapping on the right wing to pop over a point from play.

“We’ll push it as far as we can go, and there’s a good chance that one of us is going to get caught off our line at some stage, but I think, for all the good that we have done so far in doing it, getting caught once isn’t going to ruin it,” said Morgan.

“We’re trying to show that we’re not just there to stand between the posts and take kick-outs.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for goalkeeping to be an attractive position. At the end of the day, we’re entrusted with playing the role, and we’re just doing what we can to help our team.

“You’re an extra player, you’re not being marked at times, so why not push out and try to do a job?

“Conor McKenna was saying that the Australians couldn’t understand why the goalkeeper in gaelic football didn’t come out the field and create an extra man, they just couldn’t get their head around this.

“It’s going to take a wee while to get used to the fact that we’re doing it.

“You still hear the shouts of the crowd to get back into your net when you do go galivanting up the pitch, but it adds to the excitement of the game for us, keeps us on our toes and gets us involved.”

But Morgan, speaking as he was confirmed as ambassador for Precision Goalkeeper Gloves, warned that an unorthodox approach to nete-minding takes time to develop.

“Obviously we have got that bit of experience, before we started playing this way.

“The biggest fear is that some club managers will assume that every goalkeeper can do this, and expect it off everybody.

“But it’s not for everybody. I play outfield for the club, Rory has been playing that way with Scotstown for years now, so it’s important that there’s plenty of practice done on it on the training ground.

“And it’s important that a ‘keeper is actually capable of doing that role, that he’s comfortable."

Meanwhile, Morgan insisted that the departure of five members of last year’s All-Ireland winning squad is no cause for concern.

Decisions by Tiernan McCann, Ronan O’Neill, Mark Bradley, Hugh Pat McGeary and Michael Cassidy to opt out of the set-up were taken for good reasons, and must be respected, said the Tyrone ‘keeper.

“They all have their own reasons. It can be misconstrued very easily that five players have left the panel, but they all had very good reasons for doing so, and I think they have made their own reason public.

“Tyrone is a massive county, and Feargal Logan made it clear to us on his very first day talking to us that there’s well over a thousand players in Tyrone that all want to play for Tyrone.

“They will be replaced, and the thing moves on. At the end of the day, they have left the jersey in a better place for somebody to come along and pick it up.

“They will be sorely missed, they were all big personalities in the squad, and that’s going to be maybe a harder role for people to fill than their playing role, because whenever experienced members step away, it’s easy for a player to step in and do the business on the pitch, but to be an actual character in the team that adds to the team morale is sometimes a lot harder.”

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GAA Football