Martin Fogarty: Playing top hurling games under lights is wrong

Former Kilkenny selector Martin Fogarty has questioned the use of floodlights for inter-county games outside of Croke Park.

Martin Fogarty: Playing top hurling games under lights is wrong

Ahead of Cork’s second Division 1A game in seven days under Páirc Uí Rinn lights, the six-time All-Ireland winning assistant to Brian Cody says there is no need for them to be used in major hurling games.

Evening games provide Setanta Sports with NHL coverage but Fogarty believes it’s harsh on players trying to catch sliotars in the glare of a floodlight. Last Saturday, Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy appeared to lose sight of a high ball into his area for Conor Lehane’s goal.

“Croke Park is probably different because they are so high up and they are so good. From walking on it and other pitches, it doesn’t have the same glare. I don’t see the purpose for lights at other grounds. They’re fine for training but, actually, playing important games under them? I wouldn’t have been happy seeing the U21 final last year being played under them. It’s unfair to players. When you look up, you’re blinded.

“At this time of year, it can get frosty and foggy in the evening and that doesn’t help. The hurling ball is travelling so fast. The lights leave players open to missing balls that they wouldn’t miss in daylight.”

Fogarty saw the Murphy incident on Saturday when he failed to negotiate Cormac Murphy’s long ball and suggests it was the lights that threw him. “It’s very easy to blame the lights. I saw another moment where lads were looking up and then they were looking away because the lights caught them. I don’t want to be making excuses for Eoin but, from where I was watching, it looked like the lights caught him. He wouldn’t want me to be saying that but that’s likely what happened.

“If you look directly up the field from the goal, it’s okay but if you look to either corner you’re going to be blinded and it’s as simple as that.”

The habit in recent years of staging the U21 All-Ireland final in Thurles under lights irks Fogarty. “It’s an All-Ireland final. It’s hard enough if you lose a match but if you lose it because you were blinded? I just don’t see the need for it especially an All-Ireland final, which is so huge for the guys involved. If you lose you wouldn’t want to have any excuses, I put it that way. It’s different with football when the ball is so much bigger and then in dealing with a hurling ball you’re dealing with shadows everywhere. Even in senior replays like last year, you’re seeing them turn on the lights towards the end of the game but at least Croke Park doesn’t have the same problems as elsewhere.”

Nowlan Park is one county grounds that doesn’t yet have a set of floodlights, Kilkenny preferring to begin their training there closer to Championship time when the evenings become longer.

“Much and all as I would have liked to see them there over the years for training, you would wreck the pitch basically,” Fogarty said about the idea of installing floodlights there.

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