HURLING referees haven’t exactly swallowed their whistles but Lar Corbett has noticed their willingness to let the game flow more — and he’s hoping for more of the same from Brian Gavin on Sunday.
Whether it’s coincidence or not, match officials have been keener to play advantage since the epic 2009 All-Ireland final between Tipperary and Kilkenny.
And while things are sure to be tense in the Páirc Uí Chaoimh pressure-cooker against Waterford, Corbett believes referees are contributing to better spectacles by taking more of a common sense approach to the game.
“I do think they are letting it go and I think they’re making it a bit more exciting,” said the Thurles Sarsfields man.
“They’re going to have to blow some frees but they are letting it go. Even myself as a forward, if you do get pulled down you have to take the good with the bad. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t but it’s better for the game when it is let go. If a forward is being tugged back — give him the advantage.
“You can see the crowd lifting from their seats. Never mind Tipperary being involved, if you’re at a game or watching one it all adds to it.”
That’s not to say Corbett is happy with the quality of refereeing at the moment. The level of officiating has been strict on some occasions and laissez-faire on others. He wishes the men in black were all singing from the one hymn-sheet.
“What is the best way around it?” he says of the inconsistencies.
“What do you do? Do you have to ask him beforehand ‘are you going to blow it or are going to let it go?’ I just don’t know. I don’t have an opinion on it because I don’t know the right thing to say as regards referees blowing it.
“Do you have to have it in your mind that ‘this referee’s going to blow it and I’m going to have to play my game different then?’ I don’t know but I think we do need a bit more consistency as regards what happens on the day and whether he is going to blow it or not.”
Corbett’s 2011 season is warming up nicely, grabbing a goal against Cork the first day before another in the semi-final against Clare.
The hurler of the year accolade weights light on his shoulders. “I don’t get caught up in it because it’s only going to put extra pressure on yourself.”
Even with his hectic schedule in his new venture Lar Corbett’s Bar at Coppingers in his home town, the Tipperary management report his hunger as being stronger than ever.
Having recently turned 30, he’s determined to squeeze everything out of what he has left in the top flight.
“I suppose you always try and ask yourself the questions ‘am I getting soft?’, ‘am I getting complacent?’, ‘am I happy with what I’m doing at the moment?’, ‘am I going to just stand still?’
“There’s no point being there if you’re not going to push it on. Players are pushing each other on and that’s what it really comes down to. It’s very easy to do the soft things.
“I turned 30 a couple of months ago and I suppose when you look at it you don’t have many years left after it. You just have to drive it on for the last few years and get the most out of it. That’s what the Kilkenny lads have done and they have had great success.
“I suppose it’s important to have hunger and not to get complacent because whatever happened in 2010 we have to drive it on now.
“When you see the younger lads coming in and biting at everyone’s heels for places not only on the team but the panel that drives us on. If we do get complacent we’re told about it very quick.”
Corbett will look across the parade on Sunday and see another 30-year-old purring in John Mullane after his last-gasp goal against Limerick last day out.
If the De La Salle man has the ball close to the Tipperary goal in the dying seconds of the goal Corbett knows what it will spell. Disaster.
“He played well the last day — he’s a huge player for them on Sunday. The one man you don’t want to see with the ball in the last minute to change a game is John Mullane. He did the business and does it week-in, week-out, a huge part of the team. He’s one of the main motivators.”
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