Kerry footballer Paul Murphy is not a fan of the new water breaks and wouldn’t like to see them become a permanent fixture on matchday.
Croke Park discontinued the role of the maor uisce when drawing up new match regulations earlier this summer. Instead of bottles being carried onto the field during play, a brief water break is now called by the referee between the 15th and 20th minute of either half.
Murphy would prefer if there was no water stoppage, but did concede that the East Kerry team he is a part of benefited from the temporary halt in play during their narrow county quarter-final win over St Kieran’s last month.
The reigning Kerry champions trailed St Kieran’s by three points — 1-13 to 1-10 — when referee Jonathan Griffin signalled for the second-half water break. East Kerry regrouped during the break in play, going on to win the game by 2-13 to 1-14.
Murphy is fearful Croke Park’s dislike of water carriers may lead to water breaks becoming part and parcel of games long-term.
“Water breaks are definitely having an impact on games. It's killing momentum for teams and it's allowing teams to settle down,” said the 2014 All-Star.
“I don’t think the GAA at the top level are hugely fond of the runners with the water bottles, which might lead to the water breaks becoming permanent long-term. I would prefer a straight run of it to half-time and full-time. I am not a fan really [of water breaks]. We have benefited from it against St Kieran’s so maybe we should be grateful.
“Ultimately, we have to follow the advice. There are probably more important things for people to worry about at the moment other than sport as people are getting sick with the virus and things like getting kids back to school safely have to take precedence.”
Murphy was not part of East Kerry’s 2019 county championship-winning class given his own club, Rathmore, held senior status last year. Their relegation enabled him to throw his lot in with the district during this truncated season and he says it is very much a case of “learning on the job” as there was next to no time to familiarise himself with the playing style of his new teammates.
“It takes a bit of bedding in to get to know other players and their habits. It would apply to lads next to me in the half-back line and lads in the half-forward line that I would be kicking the ball into.
"It’s all about understanding what sort of ball they would like and what sort of runs they would make. That takes a bit of time and just the way the whole calendar of fixtures was so condensed this year, we did not get any chance to play a challenge game before the first round so, effectively, you are more or less learning on the job.”