Donegal legend Martin McHugh: 'Ulster coaches have destroyed the game'

Donegal legend Martin McHugh: 'Ulster coaches have destroyed the game'

DONEGAL All-Ireland winner Martin McHugh has launched an extraordinary attack on his native province, saying the negative, defensive football introduced by Ulster coaches is destroying the game.

Dublin and Galway have both come under fire for taking their foot of the gas during recent Super 8 encounters against Tyrone and Kildare respectively.

Both sides were in commanding positions with time to spare and started to play possession football to protect their advantage  in the latter stages of the second half.

It has been an increasingly common tactic across all forms of Gaelic football this year, but McHugh traces its origins back to Ulster.

“I think Ulster coaches have destroyed the game. They took it to a level where it's going on in schools in Ulster and it’s going on all over coaching,” he said.

“You have the situation where one team is winning the game and they're happy enough to hold onto the ball and the other team is happy enough to sit back with scoring average and this kind of stuff going on in games.

“Dublin are very good at it now and they know how to play against it. The game is definitely not as good a spectacle to watch.

“I’m an Ulster man myself and it’s Ulster that did start it and are doing it. It’s not attractive and it’s going on at club level and everything else.”

McHugh was a key part of the Donegal team that won the All-Ireland in 1992 and coached Cavan to Ulster SFC success five years later.

But he fears that unless a rule change is brought in, pragmatism will win and the game he loves will be the ultimate loser.

“I think we will have to look at the rules because Ulster teams are so good at it and they’re really able to do it,” he told RTÉ’s GAA Podcast this week.

“It's a wee bit scary because people will not go to watch it.”