Position vs. Possession
There was a distinct difference in styles on display in Parnell Park on Monday evening. Na Fianna, the slighter built side, was wholly committed to retaining the ball and building around passing. Ballymun’s game was more about strength, with Kickhams looking to use their power to create openings. In the early going this saw parity between the sides but as the first half wore on, Ballymun’s size advantage became apparent.
Na Fianna looked at their best on the break. When they turned the ball over in defence, Na Fianna had the pace to create even match-ups in Ballymun territory. Paul O’Hanlon scored their first point on 4 minutes after one such counter-attack and Jack Brophy’s pointed frees on 12 and 14 minutes came in similar circumstances.
Kickhams attack was built around runs by wing backs Conor Kavanagh and Dean O’Brien, and moreso from midfielder Glenn Doyle. It was Doyle who forged Kickhams first score as his run put Paddy Small in position to finish on 2 minutes. Small found the uprights again on 10 minutes after O’Brien made a break up-field. After an end-to-end opening to the game, it was Ballymun who made the most of concerted efforts in opposition territory. Doyle showed the power in his boot with some well placed passes and got on the scoreboard on 22 minutes. The challenge in analysing a game at this level is working out what is a scoring opportunity as players of this age group naturally lack the range of their adult counterparts. An issue made even clearer on a large pitch like Parnell Park. Still it was clear that Ballymun were wasteful down the stretch in the first half and the two-point lead they held at the break didn’t reflect their dominance in the first half.
Ballymun comfortable under pressure
While rarely ahead by a large margin, Kickhams never looked like losing this game and that was heavily due to their organisation at the back. While fragile in the face of counter-attacks, Ballymun had little difficulty absorbing sustained pressure from their Mobhi Road opponents. They held Na Fianna scoreless for the last 16 minutes of the first half and held them to just two chances in that period. Chances from play were the problem for Na Fianna as they couldn’t find holes in the Ballymun defence to create shots. This issue continued to plague them after the break. Though they created 7 chances from play, including 2 on goal, Na Fianna could only managed two points from play and were held scoreless from the 36th minute until the 3 minutes into stoppage time. With no room to breathe, the Mobhi Road club’s forwards were unable to make anything of their time in Kickhams’ half.
Better passing sees Kickhams home
Having taken an aggressive approach to the first half, Ballymun slowed things down in attack for the final 30 minutes. Doyle made fewer runs forward and instead looked to control play from midfield. This more patient approach yielded some well-worked moves, with Dillon Keating scoring after quick passing by Anton Swan and Ryan Swift. As the half wore on fatigue set in and the middle became crowded. This suited Ballymun who could bully Na Fianna in the middle third and reduce pressure on their defence. Kickhams finally made their superior strength count on the scoreboard. Small turned creator this time as he ran towards goal before feeding Cian Gerrard to fist into the net.
The pitch clearly favoured Ballymun’s strengths with a larger outfit at their disposal and a deeper bench to offset the fatigue that would naturally affect younger players. Na Fianna battled hard but simply didn’t have the tools to combat Kickhams’ well-marshalled defence. Counter-attacks were never going to be sufficient against a team with as diverse an attack, particularly for this age-group, as Ballymun’s. This may have been the undercard to Ballymun’s senior win later in the evening but a win at this level bodes well for Kickhams’ future.
Tactics not Passion: The book
Tactics not Passion, the book, is now available to order. The book tells the story a year in tactics from Sam to Sam and features several chapters looking at developments with the Dublin Senior, Under 21, and Minor Football teams. Order your copy here.
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