I wouldn’t really categorise it as a short game, it is more a possession game. Every ball is supposed to go to a free man, not be a 50/50. And that makes a lot of sense. But the problem with it is the opposition, they just might not allow you a free man, so then you need men on the field who can win a 50/50.
Just hitting a ball forward now aimlessly is gone for every team. Kilkenny and Tipp will hit it into a contested zone (but still to their advantage where possible), knowing they will win the majority of them, but Dublin had no outlet for ball if they had every man covered. Thus they were turning over huge amounts of ball in the forwards, meaning our defenders had ball raining on them. Our forwards, especially in the first Tipp game this year (and last year) were not able to tackle effectively either as they were physically smaller. We have always had a decent defence, they just hadn’t a chance with the amount of ball that was coming in.
Puck outs were the prime example of this. The world and it’s mother were saying last year that once a team started picking up the free man and we had to go long we were in trouble. And the world and it’s mother was right. Dublin tried to counteract this in the Cork championship game by not going for the ball with the hand at all in our half forwards, there seemed to be a very deliberate tactic of doing that knocking the ball down to the free hand with the hurl thing on high balls. I know as a technique it is coached and liked - but I think it is something that looks well in a coaching session, but does not work on the field. A big man with a good hand will shove you out of the way every time.
In fairness to Cunningham, I don’t think he is wedded to any strategy, he is trying to find something that suits the players. But after 2.5 years he probably should have found it by now. But maybe he happened upon it last Saturday.