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'Brutal' football is a turn-off for fans: Liam Bradley

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Liam Bradley

Liam Bradley

Liam Bradley

Antrim manager Liam Bradley has expressed fear for the long-term welfare of gaelic football following what he has described as the "brutal fare" on offer when his side met Donegal on Sunday.

The Saffrons boss cannot be accused of sour grapes as he has already recognised Donegal's superiority in the tie, but the current tactical trends that tend to lay emphasis on defence rather than on attack are a cause of concern to him.

"I would not have paid in to watch Sunday's game, plain and simple, because it was brutal," states Bradley. "But that's the way the game is going, that's modern football and unless they bring in a rule change, that's the way it's going to be for years to come.

"I don't know if there should be less numbers on the pitch - I think maybe there should be some sort of a rule only allowing three hand passes and then you have to kick the ball. But that would be hard to referee."

While Bradley's side have been on the receiving end of criticism, even more wrath has been directed at Donegal and their manager Jim McGuinness.

The latter had made no secret of his desire to win a first game in the Ulster Championship in four years for his county, but his tactical plan left the many thousands of neutral television viewers cold.

With attacking aces Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden, two of the most lethal forwards in the country, deployed in trying to stop Antrim, the game developed into a sterile battle for the most part that did nothing to enhance the image of the championship.

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McGuinness remains unrepentant but there is a strong feeling that the use of similar tactics against a more streetwise team would meet with much stiffer resistance.

Antrim boss Bradley, who used a sweeper when his side reached the Ulster final in 2009, is now one of many within the GAA who are worried that the provincial and All-Ireland championships could centre on defensive strategies.

"I know most teams like to get it right at the back but there is a danger that games could become suffocated because of this. We were not able to get scores from play on Sunday and that was our downfall. I thought our backs played well in the circumstances but if a team wins, then it is not going to complain nor are its fans. That's the reality of the situation," insists Bradley.

His team must now exercise patience as they await the draw for the opening round of the All-Ireland football qualifiers.


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