Offaly football boss denies using 'negative tactics' against Sligo
The Offaly football manager has defiantly denied employing negative tactics in his team's drawn game with Sligo in Division 3 of the Allianz Football League last Monday.
The performance of both teams was criticised among supporters with many claiming Offaly were negative while playing with the wind in the second half. The game finished 0-8 to 0-8 after a last gasp free rescued a point for Sligo in Tullamore.
Speaking to the Offaly Express in the wake of the game, Stephen Wallace said, "I have never employed negative tactics on a football field."
He said that Sligo are a good side who have been competitive in all of their games thus far in the Division, but suggested that "they put a lot of men behind the ball" in the game. "At one stage for one of their kickouts, they had seven players in or around the 21 yard line and that was in what was then a 14-a-side game.
Supporters were critical of Offaly's lateral passing across the pitch and a perceived lack of attacking prowess int he game, but Wallace says, "supporters will make of a game what that will."
"We had a plan to pin them in inside their 45-yard line as we did in the first half. If you recall we played into a gale of wind and kept Sligo to two scores and a wide in that period," he commented.
"That was pressing high up the field. It couldn’t have been further from what people perceive as negative tactics. Negative tactics is putting 12 or 13 men back in front of our goals. We did not or ever will do that," he stated.
He elaborated by saying, "we pressed them high up in their 45 yard line and they just got through our lads too easily in the second half, but I would encourage people to remember the first half with the same tactics when it worked okay."
The Kerry native also called on people to "give these young lads a fair hearing." He pointed out the loss of key figures from 2017, and the fact that just six of the players that started for Offaly in the 2017 league meeting with Sligo were involved from the start last weekend.
"We finished with six players on the pitch who are straight out of the U21s," he quipped. "These young lads need to learn and need the patience of the supporters."
"There is no point going through the list of players again that are currently unavailable but no county team could take the amount of players we have lost and expect miracles. We don’t have a magic wand unfortunately," he continued.
"With the exception of the Longford episode they have been competitive in every game and are improving. They are genuine lads and want to improve and they represent their county with pride each time they go out with an Offaly jersey on their backs."
"That I can tell you 100% and I won’t turn on my players, ever, and will stand with them 1000%," Wallace stated.
"We look forward now to Sunday and a huge game against a very good Westmeath side. It’s a big ask of course but isn’t every game," he concluded.
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