Let’s follow hurling’s lead, says Brennan
Ger Brennan says the GAA should be looking to apply the type of officiating that exists in hurling to Gaelic football and do away with the black card proposal.
By John Fogarty
The Dublin defender claims Croke Park are “always trying to change the game around” and overcomplicating the game for players and referees.
He is all for measures aimed at curbing cynicism but not at the expense of physicality, which is exactly what he sees will be the end result of the Football Review Committee’s black card recommendation.
“You can’t look at a fella now sometimes without getting booked,” said Brennan. “I look at the hurlers and they very much tear into each other and they get on with it.
“But Gaelic [football] has gone a bit like basketball at times and how often do you see a fella hit a fella a shoulder and there’s not a free? They are taking the physicality out of the game, in my opinion.
“Whatever about the pulling and dragging, I think that needs to be stopped, certainly, but in regards to a lad giving a good shoulder thump, what’s wrong with that?
“Many referees are blowing up for that and they’re giving rash bookings. A big hit is a part of the game.
“I remember a couple of seasons ago  Marc Ó Sé got a straight red card for a shoulder. I know it was rescinded but referees don’t know how to deal with it because they’re reacting to the crowd and stuff.”
Brennan makes the comments at the same time as acknowledging the strength and conditioning of the young players coming into the Dublin panel is unprecedented.
“Physically, they’re more developed than previous minor and U21s who came up going back five years ago.
“I came up in 2003 and I certainly wasn’t as developed as other lads, which is testament to the structure that is in place and the way it’s been done with Dessie Farrell and Jim [Gavin] on previous U21 teams.”
Brennan should be part of the Dublin team that will face Kildare in this Saturday’s Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup final in Parnell Park, a fixture which could force the hurlers’ opening Walsh Cup game against UCD scheduled for the same venue on Friday evening to be moved.
Anthony Daly’s men have already suffered a number of setbacks thanks to the footballers, with Tomás Brady switching codes, Ciarán Kilkenny opting to play hurling this year just at U21 level, while trainer Martin Kennedy also changing sides.
Dublin hurling captain Johnny McCaffrey is not dwelling on the what-might-have-beens, even if he was disappointed by Kilkenny and Brady’s choices.
“That was Ciarán’s decision and it’s up to him, and the lads we have on the panel there now are 100% behind the hurling and that’s what we want.
“We want lads that are fully committed to the cause and willing to be there every night at training and put their heart and soul into it. We’re delighted with the panel we have at the moment.”
Anyway, McCaffrey argues a dual player’s hurling always loses out if they choose to play both at senior level and can understand why Cork’s Eoin Cadogan opted for the footballers this year.
“You need to be hurling the whole time. You can maybe keep going with the football but your skill in the hurling would lack, especially if you’re missing a week’s hurling training.
“You mightn’t have the hurl in your hand every day and I just feel that you do need to have the hurl in your hand every day. Your hurling would diminish every day if you were playing both. I can see where he’s coming from, in only picking the one.”
McCaffrey, who played with Brady from minor level up, admitted he didn’t expect the Na Fianna man to make the crossover.
“It was a surprise but I was talking to him the night he made the decision and it’s something he always wanted to do and he said he’d have regrets if he didn’t do it.
“I wish him the very best of luck. I get on well with him still, we’re good friends.”
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