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Donegal physical? Not a patch on Kerry says McGeeney

By Declan Bogue

Published 02/06/2015

Tough winners: Kerry’s Aidan O’Mahony lifts the Sam Maguire last year
Tough winners: Kerry’s Aidan O’Mahony lifts the Sam Maguire last year

Despite the common perception people have of Donegal as possessing awesome physicality, Kieran McGeeney maintains the hardest hitters are in other provinces.

Asked if their quarter-final opponents are the most physical team out there, McGeeney replied: "No. Definitely not. I would put Kerry and Dublin way above them in terms of physical contact.

"In terms of actual physicality, you are on about bigger men and harder hitters. In fairness, Mayo have stepped up too in the last couple of years in terms of the size of the men they have and the way they hit."

He expanded on his point, being careful with his language as he continued: "When I say that, it comes out as derogatory and it is not.

"I actually think the way the Mayo-Kerry game was played last year; all games should be played like that, but no-one else referees a game like that.

"We are not allowed to play like that."

"There were rows in that, bibs torn up, fellas thrown over signs, there was all sorts of things and not a dicky bird."

He continued: "I think football should be played like that and hurling is, it's played like that but in fairness to hurling the players get up and get on with it and I think football should be like that."

McGeeney does not go along with the common consensus that Ulster has a monopoly on tough football, insisting we need to look beyond the received wisdom.

"The physicality I think is seen more in Ulster than in other provinces.

"You look at it in a different way but from a playing point of view I can categorically state they are not even in the same ball park.

"They might be closer, because of the northern thing - and you might as well call it northern more than Ulster - there is more of a rivalry and there is more friction in it."

He also believes that with less fussy refereeing, games played by teams outside of Ulster can be allowed a certain latitude as a game goes on. However, the rules still require tweaking and considering in order to take Gaelic football to a place where it can produce quality games and entertainment on a regular basis.

"People get mixed up between physicality and dirt. Our rules don't allow it.

"They'll (the GAA) deny that and say it's not true, but you only have to put in one minute of football and you can pick out 30 fouls in it.

"We don't have the rules to play the game the way we want to see the game played.

"Every Monday morning we're going to have a debate about whether the referee... I mean I do feel for them, even though they mightn't agree with that because I do be shouting at them, but it is very hard to implement rules that nobody wants to see."

"If they want to see a physical, hard-hitting game, like hurling is put up there like most of it, but it's the same rules as football in the most part, is it not? You wouldn't think it when you're watching it, that's a personal thing maybe."

Belfast Telegraph

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