As Leinster final day approaches the Galway hurlers enter as reigning Leinster and All Ireland champions. They also have a 100 per cent record from the round robin series in the 2018 championship
In this piece we will break down how their positioning of their half forward line has been the main catalyst for their success. We will also highlight how Michael O ‘Donoghue adjusts their style to counter act an opponents set up.
The whole game plan revolves around their half forward line dropping back in to the midfield area of the field. We will highlight how this tactic is suiting the attributes of the players from the Galway half back line up to their full forward line.
We will also show how Michael O Donoghue adjusts his team set up to counter act an opponents tactics.
Half Forward Line dropping deep.
The video below gives an example of how deep the Galway half forward line provide assistance to their midfield and half back line. Below shows how the 3 members can be often found hunting in packs in the middle area. We see Canning, Mannion and Cooney in a condensed area looking for an opportunity to turn over Kilkenny’s possession.
For the Galway team what this does is it creates pockets of space for midfield players of Johnny Coen and David Burke to run in to.
This is then an area of the field where Galway can hunt in packs and use the physical strength of their players. These rucks usually involve a member of the half forward line and the Galway half back line. When they win possession they have the skill levels to find their team mates. (See video below)
Galway’s use of their half forward line asks questions of their opposition and over the last 18 months it has upset teams.
O’ Donoghue shows his intelligence as a coach as to date the Tribesmen have been able to adjust to opposition tactics.
When the opposition’s half back line pushes up on the Galway half forward Line.
The graphic below shows an instance as Cathal Mannion’s shot goes over the bar during the Galway and Kilkenny match in the round robin series of the Leinster Championship. The Kilkenny half back line has pushed up the field with the Galway forwards and we can see how little shape there is to the Kilkenny defence.
Galway forwards Conor Whelan and Brian Concannon are left with pockets of space in which they can use their pace if the ball is delivered. Also it has created space for a Galway player in possession at midfield to run in to.
The video clip below shows how Galway can expose full back lines when the opposition decides to push their half back line up the field. Aidan Harte delivers a ball in front of corner forward Brian Concannon who is able to take it just inside the Kilkenny 65 yard line. Concannon delivers it straight in front of Conor Whelan who is fouled by Paddy Deegan of Kilkenny.
When the opposition’s half back line sits deep and lets the Galway half forwards drop deep unopposed.
Opponents who decide to sit their half back line deep in order to protect their full back when against O’Donoghue’s men are still punished.
Having players like Canning,Conney,Mannion, Burke and Glynn in the half forward line they have players that can score from long distances.
During Galway’s victory in the 2017 league final, the Tipperary half back line let Joe Canning drift deep down the field while Ronan Maher sat in his half back line.
In the video below we can see how Galway punished Tipperary directly from their puck out when Canning was let drop deep unopposed. Galway win the possession off the Tipp puck out and can find Canning who has found a pocket of space in which he is unmarked.
When the opposition sets up with a Sweeper?
On two occasions the Tribesmen have played against Wexford and dealt with Sean Murphy playing as a sweeper. O’Donoghue has broken down Davy Fitzgerald’s tactic.
In the video below we will show how Galway defend a Wexford puck out and how they use of Joe Canning in a deep role. When the possession is won they use a diagonal delivery in to the half forward line to take the sweeper out of the game. Niall Burke receives the delivery from David Burke to score a point.
Galway have not lost a championship game since August 2016. The clarity that Michael O Donoghue gives his team when setting up to play against the opposition is contributing to their continued success in 2018.
While his Tribemen compliment their skill with their work rate and movement. They are not reliant on hunger or emotion in 2018. They have a purpose and strategy in their use of their half forward line which is helping them to continue their success.
We will have further analysis pieces over the summer on Galway and all other teams in the championship. We are currently studying Galway and seeing if their is anyway to and dominate them in different areas around the field.