GAA president Liam O’Neill refused to be drawn into a war of words over hard-hitting criticism from Kilkenny of new sideline regulations and restrictions introduced by the association earlier this year.
On Monday, Kilkenny selector Martin Fogarty slammed the regulations in a strongly worded statement in the Irish Examiner and claimed that Mr O’Neill “appears to be sticking in the boot at every opportunity and finding problems where there are none. His recent outburst against managers is outrageous. His comparisons to rugby and other games make no sense. Hurling is a unique game. Rugby is much better viewed on TV so it suits managers to have laptops and there is no switching or moving of players. I say leave things alone, stop trying to fix things that are not broken”.
O’Neill did briefly, albeit obliquely, refer to the criticisms in his speech at yesterday’s launch of the Allianz Hurling League remarking that “while Kilkenny aren’t present [for the launch], they still leave a considerable mark, on and off the field.”
However, Fogarty’s stance was backed by Dublin boss Anthony Daly, who voiced criticism of a rule that restricts those on the sideline to five, including in hurling the two hurley-carriers who must now also act as the water-boys. Allowances have to be made for that single major difference between hurling and Gaelic football, says Daly.
“I read what everybody read over the last couple of days. How is a hurley lad expected to be able to control 40 hurleys and also do water? It’s mad. I didn’t think there was too much wrong with things the way they were at this level. If it’s there to stay you just have to go get used to the bloody yoke in your ear, which I don’t like, to tell the truth. It’s all very fine if everything is on out here [Croke Park] where it’s all state of the art but is it going to be practical in every ground?
“I didn’t think there was too much wrong. I don’t know why we tinker with it for the sake of tinkering. We seem to be always looking for something in the winter time to change rules, and football and hurling always seem to get painted together. I don’t mean ‘painted’ in any negative way towards football, I love my football. If a rule comes in for one code it has to come in for the two codes and, obviously, the hurleys is a completely different factor. The two water guys in football are just on water whereas the two water guys in hurling have to watch hurleys and [dispense water]”
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