Your Guide to the GAA on TV this Weekend

With a busy weekend of sport ahead, we’ve got you covered with this guide for all the GAA on TV this weekend.

We love our GAA at Intersport Elverys and this guide has all the details of this weekend’s GAA fixtures.

We’ve got all the bases covered.

 

GAA on TV this Weekend: Saturday, May 25 2024

GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship

Dublin v Roscommon at 5pm on GAAGO
in Croke Park

Louth v Meath at 5.30pm
in Inniskeen

Armagh v Westmeath at 6pm
in Athletic Grounds Armagh

Donegal v Tyrone at 7.15pm on GAA
in Ballybofey

GAA on TV this Weekend: Sunday, May 25 2024

Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship

Kilkenny v Wexford at 2pm on GAAGO
in Nowlan Park

Galway v Dublin at 2pm on RTÉ Sport
in Pearse Stadium

Antrim v Carlow at 2pm
in Corrigan Park, Belfast

Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship

Tipperary v Clare at 4pm
in Semple Stadium

Limerick v Waterford at 4pm on RTÉ Sport
in TUS Gaelic Grounds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

gaa on tv this weekend


How to Play Half Back with Mayo GAA star Eoghan McLaughlin

Half back, or wing back, is one of the most important postions in GAA (football or hurling) right now.

For a lot of young, up and coming GAA players, they really want to know how to play half back.

The position is the perfect blend of attacking and defending.

With a good aerobic base and ball skills, they can contribute at both ends of the field.

Intersport Elverys is delighted to picked the brains of Mayo GAA star and rampaging wing back, Eoghan McLaughlin, to share some advice and guidance on how to play the position.

Before you read on, his teammate Ryan O’Donoghue talks to us on how to play corner forward in this blog.

Understanding the role of a Half Back in GAA

According to Westport native McLaughlin, the role of a modern day half back is ‘to defend first and foremost’ but ‘then just give a good platform to the forwards to get scores’.

It is a position that has evolved massively in the past decade, with the likes of McLaughlin’s former Mayo teammate Lee Keegan and Dublin’s Jack McCaffrey revolutionising the role.

As McLaughlin, a former National Junior Cyclist, points out, it has became the springboard for most team’s attacks, while the traditional element of defending remains the same.

Mayo gaa star eoghan Mclaughlin tells us how to play half back

“From an attacking point of you, you are expected to be breaking lines, acting as that support runner for forwards create space for them while you also have to be able to take your scores when the opportunities come about.

“Defensively, I am obviously then trying to keep my man as quiet as possible, and also to make sure what I am doing is fitting in to the defensive principles of the team as well.”

Learning How to Play Half Back

McLaughlin’s path to the rampaging half back he is in the GAA started differently than most.

He was late to the game, having being involved at the top level of cycling in Ireland until 2018 when he decided he’d try Gaelic football.

That meant he had a lot of ground to make up in terms of the basic skills required to play and he needed extra sessions courtesy of former Mayo manager James Horan and Mayo GAA legend Ciaran McDonald.

“I came to football late,” he said. “James Horan was manager of Westport at the time. We used to train Tuesdays and Thursdays and then he used to meet me on Mondays and Wednesdays in Westport to do skills sessions.

“It started with three or four of us and it just ended up being me and him, working on different skills and elements of the game.

mayo gaa star eoghan mclaughlin shares his advice on how to play half back and the basic skills

“Then when I was involved with Mayo, Ciaran McDonald used to come to Westport and work on skills with me. We’d go through different game scenarios in terms of my positional sense on the pitch, and what to do when certain situations occur.

“It was very good.

“As a wing back, and this might sound weird, but I really hate marking a wing forward who actually plays that position. Usually they drop back and you get loads of space and time on the ball, but when they push up it’s different!”

What are the main skills you need as a half back to play GAA?

McLaughlin says that focusing on the basic skills is what all young players should be doing as a half back.

“As a wing back you’re going to be breaking lines and taking players on one-v-one, so having good basic skills is a must,” he said.

“You should be working on these everyday – kicking, soloing, catching and handpassing. The first part of all our training sessions with Mayo is 20 minutes of basic skill work.

Mayo gaa star eoghan mclaughlin on how to play half back and how to work on the most important basic skills

“left hand, right hand, left foot , right foot, different tackling techniques, the high ball. This is hugely beneficial when you do it over and over again.

“I also bring a ball with me into the gym so I can work of handpassing and handling in between sets.”

Advice for Good Tackling Technique as a Half Back?

With the physical demands in inter-county and club football at an all-time high right now, tackling is a crucial component of the game.

McLaughlin highlighted that tackling and ‘good positional play’ now go hand-in-hand as a modern-day half back must be able to defend as a unit and an individual now.

“In terms of the tackle, you need to first see where the main threats are and where the ball is on the pitch,” he said.

“If the ball is over the far side of the pitch, you can afford to step off your main as a wing back and fitting into the team’s defensive unit, helping out the full backline and preventing kick passes.

“When the ball shifts across, you then have to press up and in terms of getting the tackle right, it’s about reading it and trusting your instincts for when to tackle and when to step off.

“When you do get in the tackle, it’s about getting in their face, taking his time away from the ball and influencing his game.

“You want to be the aggressor, be that stripping the ball back or slowing the man down.”

Interestingly, McLaughlin’s teammate Mattie Ruane had similar views in this blog on How to play as a Midfielder. 

The Physical Demands of Playing Half Back in the GAA

Wing back is one of the most physically demanding positions on the GAA pitch.

Inter-county players are expected to cover north of 10km in a full game – at a minimum really.

McLaughlin is renowned for his athleticism and running ability and recently against Roscommon in the 2024 National Football League, ran for over 600m at 25km above.

“Being a wing back is tough on the body,” he laughed.

“Probably one of the most important things as a wing back is being able to get up and down the field.

“I don’t follow our GPS stats that much,  but I saw I hit 600 metres of Zone 6 running (25kmh+) against Roscommon and then I obviously pulled my hammer doing it! So that’s a very high end.

“But the majority of your good runs need to be in the Zone 5 and Zone 6 categories, which is over 75%. It’s hard running and much different to a full back who are doing short aggressive runs over and over again, ours are long.

“That’s where scores come from – being able to get up and support the play, break a line or get on the end of an attack.

Advice for Young GAA Players Learning How to Play Half Back?

McLaughlin’s advice is simple – do the basics well and play as a team.

And stay out of the gym!

“If you’re playing wing back or half back, learn to play with the team and how to get the best out of your teammates.

“That means, for example, if I am playing with Ryan O’Donoghue, knowing how he likes to receive the ball to help get the best out of him. And that might be different to how Paul Towey wants to receive it.

“Every player has different trademarks in that sense.

“But it’s also all about working on the basic skills. The younger generation now are very focused on the gym but you really don’t need to be at that age. I didn’t start gyming until I was 19.

“Nowadays kids are starting at 13 and 14. They should be nailing the basic skills because size and strength will come. There is much better value in doing ball work.”

Conclusion

Mayo GAA star McLaughlin is an excellent example of a footballer who started out with little skill, and put the work in to improve himself.

In a few short years he managed to work his way into the Mayo senior set up.

If you’re interest in learning more about Gaelic Football Positions check out our blog on that.

Intersport Elverys is proud title sponsors of Mayo GAA.

Check out our wide range of jerseys and training equipment for all 32 counties HERE or below.

 


Mayo GAA’s Ryan O’Donoghue on How to Play Corner Forward

Mayo GAA’s Ryan O’Donoghue is one of the top attackers in the country right now and in this blog shares his insight and tips on how to play the corner forward  role.

Any young, aspiring footballer will benefit hugely from the advice of Belmullet native O’Donoghue.

The former All Star has adapted and evolved his game from a roaming centre forward with the Mayo underage teams, to one of Mayo’s leading attackers.

O’Donoghue opens up and talks on:

  • A quality over quantity approach to kicking practice
  • Overcoming a bad injury and working on his fitness & recovery
  • Missing only 2 pitch sessions out of 70 with Mayo in one year
  • Playing 12 games in 4 weeks
  • Working with James Horan on a ‘Red to Blue’ mindset approach

He spoke to Intersport Elverys whilst promoting Mayo GAA’s new New York training jersey available right now.

His teammate, Mattie shared his expert insight into how to play midfield aswell.

While Mayo’s Eoghan McLaughlin spoke in great detail on the requirements of a modern way wing back. 

mayo gaa star ryan o donoghue tells us how to play corner forward and tips

Describing the Modern Day Corner Forward Role

O’Donoghue admits that knowing how to play corner forward has changed in recent years.

Space is hard got, compared to what it was in the less-defensive focused inter-county football we saw back when Mayo and Dublin fought it out around 16/17, he said.

“The game now is a lot slower than what it used to be because teams are a lot more defensive,” he said. “Teams have 12 or 13 behind the ball now and that gives a lot less opportunities for one-v-ones in corner forward, which there used to be a lot of.

Ryan o donoghue of mayo gaa shares his insight on the modern day how to play corner forward in the GAA

“Now it’s slower, so my chances of getting one-on-one has gone down, per-game. So when you now do find yourself in that situation, it could be 4-6 times a game, you need to be ready. It’s more first-time shooting now, as opposed to taking men on.

“The club game isn’t as bad; it’s definitely more open and more enjoyable. The inter-county game is not like what it used to be in Mayo/Dublin All-Ireland finals with 15 on 15 – that was more enjoyable for the fans and the players.”

What are the main skills a Corner Forward needs?

The former All Star emphasizes the importance of a good first touch, whilst also adding that a strong-mindset is key in the modern game to staying patient and focused.

He contributes a lot of this to work Mayo did with their former manager, James Horan.

“The most important skill for me is getting my first touch right,” he said. “If that’s not good you can’t do anything. I have worked on this since my minor days.

“That’s making the ball stick, gathering it first time, because good corner backs now are very tight and you have to be able to catch the ball out in front.

“Secondly, shot efficiency. Making sure I get set for every shot, not taking pot shots. And obviously with my style, free taking is up there. So keeping my routine and getting a few shots off in the warm up.

“Also, in modern day football, you might not touch the ball for ten minutes, especially in the league, so your mindset has to be ready for when the ball comes to you and you dont force it.

“That’s where working on the ‘Red to Blue‘ mindset helps. We worked a lot on this under James Horan and it is something the All Blacks did. Red means being anxious and reactive, while blue is about being relaxed, cool and composed.

“It’s a 30-second mindset.”

How do you practice Free Taking?

O’Donoghue recently suffered from a long-term groin injury, which curtailed his ability to train.

Now he adopts a ‘quality over quantity’ approach to kicking.

And sticks to his 25 shot training strategy.

“I actually don’t do crazy amounts of practicing outside training,” he admitted. “With gym work, living in Galway and the unavailability of pitches, as well as managing my load from my previous groin injuries.

mayo gaa star ryan o donoghue shares his advice on how to play corner forward and tips on free taking

“Andy Moran told me a long time ago, it’s quality over quantity and I get most of my practice done during training. I make sure I get 25 shots in – so if Stephen Rochford or Donie Buckley is explaining a drill, I might get 3 or 4 frees in then. Then I might get 2 in during the drill, and 3 or 4 in before another drill.

“Then at the end I calculate what I have got and make up the difference to 25. Until the weather gets better and evenings longer in during the summer in Belmullet, will I get a bit more done, but not craxy amounts.

“But when I do get down, it’s 25 shots -13 right and 12 left – and I mark my percentages. I want to be above 85 or 90 percent because I think I am a 90 percent shooter in my range, which is anywhere within 5 metres outside the top of the ‘D’.”

How Physicality & Fitness is important to play Corner Forward

GPS metrics are a big factor in inter-county performance reporting, but O’Donoghue admitted he doesn’t spend too much time focusing on them.

He did say, however, that he has placed more emphasis on his aerobic ability over the past few years.

And that has allowed him to rack up an incredible training consistency.

“I don’t look at data too much, I rather look at my impact on the scoreboard,” he said. “If you spend too much time looking at the GPS, you’ll end up running around the sake of it!

“Fitness wise, this is something I have worked on though. In previous years, like 2021, I went through the season with Mayo and got to an All-Ireland Final and then straight on to a County Final with Belmullet. I only took 4 weeks off then and went back for pre-season, but got injured in 2022 and that was a learning.

“The following year we were doing running sessions by ourselves in November to be ready for December 1 collective training and I only missed 2 pitch sessions out of over 70, which I put down to being fit, recovering well and having a good off-season.

“You need a certain level of physicality now too because tackling is a big part of a corner forward’s role. All the best forwards work back inside their ’45, like David Clifford and Shane McGuigan.

“A turnover at the top of the ‘D’ can be as good as a score sometimes and we take a lot of pride in this.”

What kind of player do you not like marking?

Most forwards will tell you, they hate to see their marking bombing up and down the field.

O’Donoghue is no different.

“You don’t like to see your marker going up all the time,” he laughed. “But sometimes it’s a cat and mouse game. You let them go and gamble on a turnover and then you might get a goal the other side of it.

“They might not go as often then!

“But a good corner back is always in your face, physical, tight and good on the ball. It’s easier marking a corner back not good on the ball because you can set traps on them then, but in today’s game there’s not many like that.

Advice for Young Players?

Similar to his Mayo teammates, O’Donoghue’s advice centres around pitch time over gym time.

“If I was going back to my younger self, I’d work more on both sides,” he candidly admitted. “Even though I do work on both now, I would do more because the higher the level you go, the better the defenders and they know all about your tendencies.

“Every corner back I play against knows what I am going to do. So over the past 12-18 months I have really been working on my non-dominant side.

“You also don’t need to be in the gym if you are in your early teens. You don’t need big arms back then! Get out on the pitch, take our 25 shots, rate them, and keep going until you are hitting that 90 percent mark.”

Conclusion

If you are interested in learning more about the wider dynamics of Gaelic Football Positions, make sure to check out the blog in the link.

Intersport Elverys are proud title sponsors of Mayo GAA. 

We’re also steeped in GAA history, and proud to stock jersey and training ranges from all the counties in Ireland.

Check out our GAA ranges below.

 

mayo gaa star ryan o donoghue shares his advice on how to play corner forward

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