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Ultra defensive clubs holding back Donegal's true potential | Devenney

As Donegal prepare for their Ulster Championship opener this weekend, Brendan Devenney was highly...



Ultra defensive clubs holding...
Football

Ultra defensive clubs holding back Donegal's true potential | Devenney

As Donegal prepare for their Ulster Championship opener this weekend, Brendan Devenney was highly critical of how the county's defensive options have been hampered by the club game.  

Finishing closer to first-placed Kerry than relegated Meath as the National Football League drew to a close last weekend, Donegal appear to have reason to consider themselves All-Ireland contenders.

Equipped with some incredible attacking talent, Brendan Devenney sounded a cautious note as he outlined where his county stands as they prepare for Tyrone this weekend, however.

"What Declan Bonner has brought to Donegal is that bit of zip, flair and invention," he stated on Wednesday's OTB AM, impressed with what the manager and his coach Stephen Rochford have developed.

"I think Donegal haven't been unearthing the defenders that we would have hoped for though and that goes back to what's happening in club football here. Blanket defences are ruining so much of our club football in Donegal."

A topic to which the former inter-county player has given plenty of thought, Devenney revealed that he is working on a more detailed report of where club football in the county stands.

With the county's championship for 2020 resting initially on this make-or-break game with Tyrone though, he explained the primary issues at a local level that are now impacting the county team.

"The bigger club teams in Donegal are going defence-first," he argued, "and the other teams just have to mirror that system then. It is stopping defenders from being defenders and we're not producing the new Neil McGee or Karl Lacey as a result.

"I really think that clubs in Donegal need to take ownership of tactics back. When a club chairperson is hiring a manager, they have to have a blueprint of where the club is going from the bottom up.

"This is the GAA. This is not a defensive organisation. It needs to be attack first. There needs to be a real reformation in Donegal club football."

Donegal 17 June 2007; Brendan Devenney, Donegal, in action against Conor Gormley, Tyrone. Picture credit: Sportsfile

Although the inter-county game can hardly said to be exempt from the blanket style of deep defensive play, Devenney was critical of how poor a spectacle the club game has become in Donegal as a result of its widespread usage.

Fundamentally, he argued that the reliance upon such systems at club level has impaired Donegal's ability to develop individual defenders of the highest order capable of dealing with the country's best attacking talent.

"Nobody steps up to be 'the man' in that blanket system," he suggested. "Everybody has a colleague 5 yards away from them for a handy hand-pass. Nobody has to man-mark a better forward.

"So, the question marks lie with Donegal's defence. Because once they get the ball out of there they have so much power and pace going forward, they can hurt anybody."

You can watch back Brendan Devenney and Colm Cavanagh preview this weekend's game in full right here

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Brendan Devenney Donegal Eamon McGee GAA Gaelic Football Tyrone Ulster Senior Football Championship