The chair of the GAA’s Hurling Development Committee has backed the introduction of the sin bin to the game.
Jimmy O’Dwyer, a Templemore man living in Castleknock, stressed he has not yet discussed the playing rules committee’s motion with the rest of his group.
However, it’s his personal opinion that the game would be served better were the black card to be implemented because of the cynicism that has come into hurling.
He does, however, feel the time-keeping of the sin-bin period would need to be cleared up were it to become a permanent fixture in hurling.
“I think it is a good idea. Obviously, what is very important is that the 10 minutes the player spends off the field is game-time. I’m thinking in light of what happened to Bubbles (John O’Dwyer) in Cork last Saturday and the time taken for his injury to be assessed.
“I would like to see the sideline official help the referee ensure that is the case because there won’t be a public clock on this. I know the integrity of the game, when it becomes 15 v 14, changes but it might make people think a bit.
It might be a good way of dealing with people who get a bit hot-headed and allow them to cool down a bit. But a certain element of cynicism has crept in, I would say, even in the last 18 months.
“Games are so close and what is more amazing now is the distance at which players can score points. There is terrible pressure on the backs and the cynical foul comes into the armoury and if the six backs rotate to take the hit and make the foul each time it becomes a bit of a joke.”
However, O’Dwyer, a retired primary school principal, insists the measure has to be put in on an experimental basis first. “It has to be tried and trusted for a long time.”
He argues hurling also has some of the difficulties faced by Gaelic football. “Any sport at the moment, people go to the margins to win games. There’s no doubt about that. We can’t say we’re holier than thou.”
At the same time, O’Dwyer knows there are thin lines between the categories of fouls in hurling. A misjudged challenge could be regarded as a deliberate attempt to take an opponent out of the play, which would be a black card offence according to the playing rules committee.
“The most celebrated mistimed shoulder was in the All-Ireland,” says O’Dwyer in reference to Richie Hogan’s late tackle on Cathal Barrett in the first half of last August’s decider.
“That wasn’t a cynical foul; that was a red card offence. A cynical foul would be a guy going through and is taken out by a tackle from behind or a deliberate pull of the jersey in a goal-scoring situation.
“Maybe in 50 years’ time, we will have in hurling referees speaking into a microphone and telling us all why he gave a free. When referees give a decision, it would be great to understand why they gave it because you’d often see striking with the hurley interpreted as dangerous play.
The ref should say it was dangerous play at the time.
Former Limerick captain Ollie Moran, a member of the Hurling 2020 committee, has questioned the need for the sin bin in the game. Five years ago, that Liam Sheedy-led body ruled out proposing the old black card (automatic substitution) for hurling and added that “hurling is not a cynical game and we are best served where the game is 15 v 15.”
Moran appreciates cynicism is part of hurling but believes a one v one penalty is the best means of punishing such behaviour.
“I think the sin bin is a waste of time in hurling and football too. The best way to punish cynical fouling is a straight penalty to the fouled team, similar to free throws in basketball.
It cuts out the unnecessary time delays involved in policing the sin bin and makes players think twice about cynical fouling, especially if a game is in the balance.