Limerick manager John Kiely says nobody will be watching hurling in 12 months unless something is done about new interpretations of the rules.
In a strong post-match briefing following today's defeat by Galway, Kiely said the game has somehow changed in the four months since Limerick won the All-Ireland. And he also hit out at what he saw as simulation by Galway players during this afternoon's clash.
"I think it’s a worry for the game as much as it’s a worry for us," Kiely said, when asked about the free count against his side. Evan Niland converted 14 for the Tribesmen.
"Having seen two games I’d have major concerns as to where we’re at on this. Clearly, we have to take responsibility for our own performance levels and we do.
"However, it does appear that the game has changed in the last four months when we’ve all been at home. And someone has decided to take the tackle out of the game. I’d love to know who they were and when it was decided. We had nobody here watching the game today and in 12 months' time we’re going to have nobody watching it if it’s 36 frees they are going to be sitting down to watch."
Kiely added: “I think the people at home today were saved 20 euros because that wasn’t a spectacle anyone would want to be part of.
“I wasn’t aware that anything had to change. I completely agree some of those frees are frees. But when a player has the ball and they run at you and throw themselves on the ground roaring and shouting that’s embarrassing. That’s not part of the game.
“There were some clear examples of simulation there today. A couple were very embarrassing. None of us want to see that as part of our game. Having said that, the referees’ interpretation of the rules and our understanding of that is at an all-time low, in my opinion."
Kiely expressed his frustration that the narrative around hurling now all centres around where the game is going, rather than celebrating the return to action.
“Unfortunately, we’re in a position where we’re in two weekends in a row where we should be talking about how great it is that the teams are back on the pitches and the quality of the performances and so on and so forth.
“We’re stuck unfortunately in this area where we’re discussing rules. When we’ve never had to have those conversations in the past. I can’t remember, and I’m involved a long time now, and I can never remember to have conversations about rules.
“Why have we come to the point where we’ve had such a fantastic game that everyone was enjoying. And now we’re in a situation where we are having deep conversations about rules. It’s so disappointing. It’s so disappointing.
"We had players who were being physically held from running — an opposition player even hurt himself trying to prevent a player from running.
"It was in open view of our umpires, our linesmen, or fourth official, referee, and they couldn't see it and it persisted throughout.
"And yet a player can put a hand in in a tackle and within a split-second it’s a free."