Sport Hurling

Friday 28 July 2017

Babs calls on GAA to review standard of sliotar

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

BABS Keating has called for an urgent review of the standard of hurling balls currently in use, arguing that they are ruining the game.

He believes that the entertainment value is being seriously diminished by the distances the ball travels and that, ultimately, the public will be turned off.

"The way we're going, we'll have goalkeepers pucking the ball to each other, end to end. It's getting easier all the time to drive the ball huge distances.

"It spends most of its time in the air, flying over lads' heads. You hardly get any midfield play anymore and now puck-outs are dropping in behind half-back and half-forward lines. It's making a mockery of the game," he said.

Keating believes that if sliotars weren't travelling as far, it would result in greater excitement where players engaged with each other much more regularly.

"You would have at least 30pc more actual play. What you have now is the ball the air most of the time and fellas trying to work out where it's going to drop," said Keating.

"It's crazy altogether when you have a wind blowing, as happened for the Offaly-Galway game last Saturday evening where the puck-outs were dropping right down on the opposing team's goal.

"You have juveniles pointing '65s' quite easily nowadays. There was a time when the strongest of hurlers could hit the ball no further than 80 or 85 yards.

"I just can't understand why we've arrived at a situation where the ball can be driven so far. It's not helping hurling."

He believes that the improvement in the standard of sideline cuts is down to the texture of the ball and while it's a skill to be admired, there are damaging side effects to the 'poc fada' game.

"I'm hearing more and more people complaining about it.

"Hurling would be far more enjoyable if there were more balls dropping in the half-back/midfield/ half-forward area, but that's not going to happen when lads are driving them the full length of the pitch," said Keating.

He is also unhappy with the disciplinary system, which doesn't allow a player who has been sent off on two yellow cards to be replaced.

"If a player commits a serious foul, then he should be red-carded and not replaced but if he picks up two yellows for fairly harmless fouls, a sub should be allowed on."

Irish Independent

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