I’M not exactly revealing any home truths when I say that hurling people, especially myself, can be snobby, particularly when it comes to football. We don’t believe that we have a discipline problem in our game, unlike our cousins with the big ball.
That attitude may sometimes exist in a blurry grey space, but the increasingly technical regulations used to distinguish between black and white is threatening to do more harm than good, with referees leaning more towards black.
For the life of me, I can’t understand how you can have close to 100 frees in two matches — Dublin-Wexford on Saturday evening, and Cork-Limerick yesterday. Are they trying to destroy our game or what?
I couldn’t understand how Johnny Murphy could issue 13 yellow cards and three reds on Saturday evening. Sean Cleere awarded 42 frees yesterday in Cork, a number of which were mind-boggling. There’s something wrong when 26 points are scored from two free takers in one match.
I appreciate that referees are assessed to the highest standards but sometimes, common sense isn’t that common.
If Brian Gavin or Barry Kelly were refereeing those two games at the weekend, there is no way you’d have had that many frees.
Liam Óg McGovern got a yellow card on Saturday for barely touching the hurley off Chris Crummey’s side. McGovern did make contact, but if that is a yellow card, then God help us.
When Conor McDonald got a red, Shaun Murphy and Jack O’Connor could also have gone for two strokes in the same incident. If guys deserve to be sent off, send them off. But would anyone have felt that Wexford deserved to finish with just 11 men on Saturday?
There has to be more room for more common sense. Crummey is facing possible surgery this week for a broken bone in his shoulder. And yet the officials wouldn’t allow John Hetherton on as a blood sub to replace him.
So if a fella gets a little nick in his finger, he has to come off. But if a guy is in bits with a busted shoulder, he can’t be replaced? That’s effectively what the officials told Dublin on Saturday; Dublin already had five subs used and the fourth official informed the linesman that the change couldn’t be made. So Dublin were effectively down to 13 players — it was 13 v 13 by that stage — when Jack O’Connor got the decisive late goal.
I know you have to draw the line somewhere on rules or you’ll otherwise have anarchy. But where is the duty of care to players in that situation?
Most of the discussion this week in the lead up to Congress will focus on the black card in hurling.
I’m not saying that there aren’t cynical play in our game — of course there are. But I don’t see a black card as the best means of eradicating it.
Award a penalty for a cynical foul on a player straight through on goal. Or else, give a two-point free. Some might ask how referees will decide between a standard one-point, and a two-point free? Well they’re already making those big calls by sending lads off and doling out frees like confetti.
Cleere was overly fussy when the right call on a number of occasions would have been to let the play develop. Murphy’s interpretation of the advantage rule was head-wrecking for most of Saturday evening.
The match in Croke Park was niggly and tense but the crowd were infuriated when there were so many stoppages, which also contributed to the broken and low scoring pattern for so long in the match.
One of the biggest issues in hurling at the moment is that there is such a shallow pool of top-quality referees. I don’t want to be hammering refs when they have such a difficult job. But they just need to officiate with more common sense. We have the best sporting product in the world and the last thing we need to do is contaminate it with too many technical regulations.
WITH their specially commissioned jerseys honouring Tomás Mac Curtain and Terence MacSwiney I’m sure those two fallen heroes’ names were mentioned at half time in Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.
Cork’s first-half display was the exact opposite of what they’d have wanted to show — but Cork’s second-half performance was everything they’d have asked of themselves, especially when carrying the images of those two great men on their chests.
Coming up to half time, when they were trailing by eight points, it looked like getting ugly for Cork. Limerick were in total control. Cork were struggling to get to grips with Limerick in that warzone but forcing a ten-point swing said everything about Cork’s attitude and spirit.
They didn’t come away with the two points, but showing those battling qualities in the circumstances was every bit as important.
Yesterday was another great result for Brian Lohan and Clare. Shane O’Donnell was back to his lethal best, scoring two goals and setting up another. After being really good as the defensive pivot against Wexford, Patrick O’Connor had another massive game at number 6 yesterday.
The pieces of the jigsaw certainly appear to be coming together for Lohan, as they do for Liam Cahill in Waterford. Similar to the Cork match, they dug out another one-point win in Walsh Park, which will be another step in making the venue the fortress it needs to be in the summer.
When I was leaving Croke Park on Saturday evening, the Dublin football hordes were arriving in waves. I was saying to myself ‘Ye’ll do better to get more drama than what we just witnessed here’. In fairness, I watched the match on TV and you’d have to give it up to Dublin and Donegal for a serious contest. The hurling didn’t have the same quality for as long but, still, give me 15 minutes of that kind of late hurling drama any day before 70 minutes of good football.
Call me a hurling snob again if you want. I don’t care. I just want the suits in high office to do more to protect our glorious game.