Brennan disputes notion Cats behind calls to keep hurling physical

Former GAA president Nickey Brennan believes it is wrong to suggest Kilkenny are directing calls to make hurling a more physical game.

The Conahy Shamrocks man acknowledges his fellow county men Eddie Keher and Brian Cody has voiced their concerns about the compatibility of yellow and red cards with the sport.

However, he highlights similar points about hurling losing its physical edge have been aired elsewhere.

“As regards hurling having lost its physicality, this is a subject of varying opinions. Some people share the views of Eddie Keher and Brian Cody but many others disagree with the Kilkenny duo. Diverse opinions will make any forthcoming debate very interesting. It would be wrong, though, if people see the upcoming debate on hurling’s future as an issue being driven by Kilkenny. Other prominent hurling men such a Galway’s Cyril Farrell also have concerns that the current rules militate against a physical approach.”

Writing in his Kilkenny People column, Brennan insists the debate isn’t about cards but the actual rules of the game.

The two-time All-Ireland winner and former Kilkenny manager said: “Cards are used to demonstrate refereeing decisions to spectators and if they were scrapped tomorrow would anybody care? Scrapping the cards, though, would not change the fundamentals of the rules.”

He raised an eyebrow at the speed at which GAA president Liam O’Neill declared a forum in the wake of Keher and Cody’s offerings.

“The debate as to whether hurling has lost some of its physical lore did not start with the recent correspondence from Eddie Keher to the GAA authorities in Croke Park.

“It has been ongoing for a couple of years now, but the debate moved up several notches with Keher’s correspondence plus Brian Cody’s support for his county man’s comments during a recent media briefing.

“When two of hurling’s top names speak in unison on what they see as unnecessary tampering with the game of hurling it clearly prompted Liam O’Neill to enter the debate. I was somewhat surprised at the GAA President’s immediate reaction. However, he was caught between a rock and a hard place. Failing to comment could be construed as not caring about a game which the president clearly cherishes.

“But in reacting as he did, there will be expectations that changes will now be forthcoming to the rules of hurling. The GAA president spoke of the successful process used by the Football Development Committee, so it will be understandable if a hurling review takes on a similar process.”

A former Hurling Development Committee chairman, Brennan casts doubt over just how many proposals would earn enough support were they presented to Congress.

For one, he thinks the idea of introducing the black card to the game is a non-runner. However, he believes both Keher and Cody should be part of any review group. Brennan also accepts the timing of a hurling debate in the wake of two classic All-Ireland finals is difficult.

Yet he wrote: “It would be unfair to both Cork and Clare to say that both games were not physical, but they could not compare to some of the teak-tough physical encounters we saw over the previous decade.

“In terms of entertainment it would be difficult to surpass the quality of both games last September. However, it can equally be argued that the concession of so many goals over the two games hinted at questionable defending.

“Some of our match officials had difficulties last year with a couple of incorrectly issued red cards, which are now the catalyst for the debate that is about to gather momentum.”


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