Former Cork goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack has hit out at criticism of the use of a sweeper system in hurling, outlining that the tactic is simply another way the game has evolved.
Óg Cusack was speaking on the Sunday Game following, Wexford’s dramatic defeat to Tipperary in the All Ireland semi-final with the sweeper system a tactic manager Davy Fitzgerald has occupied on many occasions.
Former Waterford boss Derek McGrath was another of the analysts on the panel and like Fitzgerald, he was known to deploy a sweeper during his time in charge of the Deise.
The tactics had drawn criticism from corners of the hurling community but in a passionate defence of both men and their system, Óg Cusack outlined that he felt the changes were innovative and key to the evolution of the game.
“Innovation is the lifeblood of any game. A lot of the way that Davy and Derek have been challenged it’s as if they have been disrespecting the game.
“I’d actually say not to innovate is actually disrespecting the game.
“It reminds me of what’s happened in the mid 2000s when it came to Gaelic football. You had a lot of intelligent coaches that were playing the game in a certain way and it was very easy to make cheap shots about puke football.
“Why weren’t people asking why did people want to do this?
“The British invented a lot of games but they struggled to accept and adapt the wider influences in their games”
“Is there only one way that we should be playing the game of hurling? I don’t think so. I don’t want one way of playing the game. I want teams to come along with different approaches, different tactics like we saw with Wexford today.”
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) July 28, 2019
The three-time All Ireland winner then continued by outlining that he felt criticism of the conservative style was linked to “the last remnants of British culture on these islands.”
“I believe the accusation of disrespecting the tradition of the game is part of the last remnants of British culture on these islands.
“The British invented a lot of games but they struggled to accept and adapt the wider influences in their games.
“What I mean is the long ball, John Bull, Jack Charlton type spirit. I’m delighted the modern player has moved on.
“Back to our games, if you go into any modern, inter-county dressing room, they know that the game has moved on.
“Mick Mackey was one of the first players to solo the ball and you still had some players on his case.
“I bet you the same fellas that are on Davy’s and Derek’s case would have been on Mackey’s case back in the day.”