Limerick’s Donal O’Grady has warned any move to reduce the number of defending players on the line for penalties in hurling from three to one will lead to players manufacturing fouls inside the area.
O’Grady isn’t against the rule per se — he is actually all for trialling the idea before it is written into GAA law — but he believes such a new edict would create a headache for the very men whose job it is to keep the peace.
“It makes the referees’ job harder again, doesn’t it? There’s extra pressure on them to see when a forward is trying to manufacture a penalty because they will know the chances of scoring them are increased with just the one goalkeeper.”
The other headline proposal among the 15 recently put forward by the Hurling 2020 Committee was teams should be allowed replace any player sent off after receiving two yellows.
O’Grady may be a defender, and thus someone who could benefit more from this than the penalty rule, but he was unequivocal in admitting such a change to the rules would lead to an increase in tactical fouling. He doesn’t see that one being introduced anyway.
Nevertheless, he was a particularly interesting man to ask about that topic given it was his intentional ankle tap on Richie Power three minutes from the end of the All-Ireland semi-final last August that cost Kilkenny a clear goal, if not the game itself. O’Grady was already on a yellow card but, incredibly, escaped the imposition of a second one for his blatant ‘professional’ foul from referee James McGrath.
“No, I wasn’t booked, I was already on a yellow but, looking back, it was a yellow card. Technically, it was striking with the hurley, but there was no maliciousness. It was more a leg-tap than a belt of a hurley as such.”
Dublin chief executive John Costello referenced the incident in his annual report last month and compared the relative lack of fuss after it to the furore created by Tyrone’s Sean Cavanagh’s deliberate foul on Monaghan’s Conor McManus the year before.
Costello used the example to promote the idea of a black card being introduced to hurling and, while O’Grady doesn’t believe that is necessary, he admitted that he would do the very same were the Power situation repeated.
“It’s harder in hurling to commit, what would you call it, a malicious foul? It’s a lot harder. But, I suppose in hindsight, yes I would. The thing was had Limerick gone down the field and scored a goal to win the match, it would have made it a lot more news.
“It was either Richie Power score a goal or me try to knock him. It was a crucial stage of the game and it was probably worth a yellow card. It was just the whole day that was in it. In fairness to the referee, he had a job to get back himself with the rain falling.”
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