Steven Poacher

Steven Poacher – Tactically innovative goalkeepers

Coach Education is a subject very close to my heart, it’s a huge passion of mine, as a Coach I never want to stop learning, in fact I have a small black note book I carry everywhere with me. The majority of my week seems to be spent in a car, so therefore the book very seldom leaves the car.

I would regularly get an idea or see something in a game or a session that I feel might help improve my own coaching or the quality of the training sessions I deliver and I would scribble it down in the black note book.

I really enjoy challenging players at training, I like to take players out of their comfort zone without actually taking them out of their depth but you need to be brave as a coach to try this and be willing to embrace and encourage new methods or ideas.

This is a strange time we are living in and with the dark evenings now upon us and most of the country in a lockdown situation we have to try and maximise whatever opportunities to enjoy ourselves and keep our minds active.

One thing we can all do is educate ourselves, whether that is through webinars, zooms, or simply by picking up a book to read, it’s a brilliant opportunity to do so particularly when life in general has slowed down a little.

Education empowers people, adding a little more will give you a little more knowledge, and knowledge, if used correctly, is power.

On Monday night past, I was invited by Ciaran Deely, former Wexford senior footballer and London GAA manager, to present on a webinar he was delivering via his online coaching company, “Deely Sports Science.”

Ciaran’s excellent venture is an online sports science and coaching service with some excellent coaches from a wide diverse range of sports offering excellent guidance and advice.

The service commands a small monthly fee to sign up, but it’s a priceless commodity for any coaches out there looking to upskill a little over these next few months with exclusive access to webinars, videos, session plans, exemplar games, tactical analysis and much more.

My own presentation on Monday night was titled, “Tactical Innovations in Gaelic Football”, like all invasion games, Soccer, Rugby, Hockey, Gaelic Football is no different, it continues to evolve like the rest of them, and the majority of the time for the better.

Recently we have seen a number of tactical innovations in our games, restarts are a massive phenomenal now, teams are absolutely obsessed with retaining their own, striving for that holy grail of 100% retention rate, while at the same time placing a huge emphasis on disrupting the oppositions.

If we take Shaun Patton, Donegal goalkeeper, at the weekend and analyse his kick out in the 26th minute that led to the Donegal goal, he had the kick out away in less than 5 seconds before Tyrone were organised, a long torpedo like kick over the top to Peader Mogan who didn’t have to break stride, one pass later to Langan and the ball was in the net inside 10 seconds from boot to boot!

The innovation in our game centered around the kick out strategies takes such an interesting tactical outlook for coaches analysing the game.

The second item we discussed was how Dublin defend, how they effectively use what is called “channelling.”

What I mean by this is very straight forward, Dublin will at times try to direct you and control you into heading into certain areas of the field, they like to set traps for the opposition, they particularly like to lure you down the side-lines, shutting down the player on the balls options to maybe only one option and giving themselves the huge opportunity to turn the ball over.

Offensively we analysed the importance of now playing with at least 3 or 4 forwards high up the pitch, to pose the opposition a serious threat but also giving yourself balance on the 45 as a possible out ball.

The two ways of attacking offensively are, you either run the ball hard or you kick the ball, the really good teams can mix their game up and do both. If you play a counter attacking style and only play with 1 or 2 up, the problems come when your initial running game doesn’t materialise, take Tyrone for example.

Against Mayo in the national league, they played a two and two formations up front with Harte and Mc Kenna on the 45 as link players and Mc Curry and Canavan inside as the focal point.

What this allowed Tyrone to do was mix their game up, they turned a ball over on their own D and Ronan McNamee straight away looked up and kicked the ball into space under the stand by the Mayo 45 for McKenna to run onto, he turned looked up and kicked inside to a 2v2 situation, a move that didn’t allowed Mayo time to drop a plus one in or congest the middle third. A fantastic example to any young player that the ball if delivered accurately will always move quicker via the foot.

The webinar finished with the host, Joe Coulter, former London Gaelic Football coach and Down native, showing 4/5 examples on a virtual tactics board of different in game situations and how you would set your team up to combat them which led to some very interesting discussions.

Now is a brilliant time to upskill coaches, use the time wisely, I know I will, I enjoy watching games back, looking for little innovations I feel I can adopt and implement into my own training. For more information on Ciaran Deely’s excellent service check out

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