Former Cork hurling and football hero Ray Cummins is worried about the lack of intensity infecting the game of hurling in Cork at all levels.
Tomorrow, Cummins will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at a GPA lunch in Croke Park. And in a wide-ranging interview with Michael Moynihan in Saturday’s Irish Examiner Sport section, he bemoans the pace of hurling in Cork, particularly at club level, which he partly attributes to the style of refereeing.
“It’s something that bothers me nowadays about the game in Cork,” Cummins says.
“I don’t see the level of intensity that was there in our time, and I think that’s affecting the Cork team at intercounty level. At that level, we can’t put up with the intensity other teams are able to produce, plus we seem to be lacking in physique.
“Also, the refereeing in club matches in Cork seems too finicky to me, to prevent intensity. The slightest shoulder and there’s a free, but the refereeing is completely different at intercounty level, where the likes of Tipperary and Kilkenny are playing at a different level. That’s where we’re suffering.”
Cummins also feels that the championship structure has a further dampening effect.
“I don’t have a magic wand that’d solve this, but there are so many back doors and so on that there isn’t as much enjoyment for spectators, even. People know their teams have a second chance.
“There’s a lot to be said for winner take all, straight knock-out, as a format for championships.
“You’d be reluctant to go to first- and second-round games, because you know the teams have a second crack of the whip, they know that — and there’s no intensity in those early games as a result.”