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Kilkenny selectors Michael Dempsey, left, and Martin Fogarty during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Kilkenny selectors Michael Dempsey, left, and Martin Fogarty during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Kilkenny selectors Michael Dempsey, left, and Martin Fogarty during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

BACK in February, Kilkenny selector Martin Fogarty became the latest, though certainly the most cutting, dissenter in an avalanche of disgruntled mentors against the new sideline restrictions which have since come kicking and screaming into GAA being.

Fogarty hit out at what he called a "dictatorship", describing associated comments by GAA president Liam O'Neill as "outrageous" and adding that O'Neill was "sticking the boot in at every opportunity".

On Sunday, Fogarty was prowling the line in Nowlan Park, one of two men entrusted with Kilkenny's League final sideline maneouvres.

Neither he nor Mick Dempsey actually wore the Bainisteóir bib, leaving vacant Brian Cody's big match garment in his absence, yet visibly, throughout the great man's hiatus, both men were intrinsically involved in team preparation and game-day calls.

Cody is on the way back though, so the next time Kilkenny play a match, on June 9 in Tullamore, Fogarty will be banished behind one of O'Connor Park's advertising hoardings, rubbing shoulders with the great unwashed, relaying messages and observation whilst vying for voice with the din of the crowd.

"The boss will be back, which means I will be back behind the wire unless someone in Croke Park now gets a bit of common sense and changes these match day regulations," he explained. "It's a pity really, because it is doing a disrespect to selectors that people are worried that they would be starting fights on the line.

"But I would be more concerned and worried about player welfare."

Similarly, Galway's managerial triumvirate of Anthony Cunningham, Tom Helebert and Mattie Kenny have been scattered on match day. Dublin's Richie Stakelum has had to speak through barriers to get his message to Anthony Daly.

Communication

Yet aside from the simple communication issues, Fogarty feels that both hydration and hurley distribution have been affected by the reduced numbers of sideline personnel.

"The new regulations are basically banning players from getting water," he stressed. "Two lads have to look after maybe 20 hurls and today our lads were strapped because two hurls broke at the clash, so I would hope that the people in charge would see that the game of hurling needs four lads on the line."

He wasn't quite wearing the bib on Sunday, but Fogarty was at least donning a manager's hat when reflecting on any controversy.

Television pictures of JJ Delaney's barney with Lar Corbett are incomplete accounts of the incident yet they still didn't make for the prettiest viewing.

"It's very difficult, but I'd be very sorry to see anyone getting put off," reflected Fogarty.

"And from what I could see there, there was nothing major going on there. I saw the sending off but didn't see why they were wrestling around the ground.

"I didn't see anyone get hit with a hurl or hit with a fist. We as people involved with teams don't like to see anyone get put off either on your team or the other team."

And if the managerial masterstroke of the day was the positioning of Michael Fennelly at centre-forward, Fogarty cites common sense rather than tactical innovation in its establishment.

"It wasn't a big call really," he insisted, "sure why wouldn't he be able to play there? It wasn't a big call at all. The midfield pairing we had the last day were very good in Lester (Ryan) and Michael Rice and there wasn't any great reason to change it.

"Michael often plays there for the club but that's a different ball game and wouldn't necessarily influence us. We just felt the way the midfield went the last day it was going well so why fix it if it's not broken?

"It's Offaly now in the Championship," he continued, "and that's going to be a tall order because if you take your eye off the ball, you will be beaten. So we have to regroup. The guys are off for two weeks for club matches and we will get them back and start preparing for Offaly."


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