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Kilkenny selector Fogarty launches stinging attack on O'Neill

KILKENNY hurling selector Martin Fogarty has waded into the row over the new sideline restrictions with a hard-hitting statement that is particularly scathing of GAA president Liam O'Neill.

Fogarty has likened the new regulation, limiting touchline access to five backroom personnel per team, to a "dictatorship".

He also described as "outrageous" recent comments by O'Neill in which he condemned the "cult of the manager" and the power wielded by inter-county bosses today.

Contacted earlier this morning, the president declined to respond as he had not yet seen the comments.

But another high-ranking GAA official told the Evening Herald: "There were just far too many people on the line, and this is a serious attempt to curtail some pretty unsavoury scenes that were ongoing."

It's most unusual for a selector - as opposed to a team manager - to go public in such an emphatic manner, even more so via a carefully thought-out statement.

But in doing so, Fogarty is merely following the lead of his manager, Brian Cody, who gave a typically withering critique of the new sideline regulations at a Kilkenny sponsorship announcement last week.

On this occasion, Fogarty's statement includes an expression of disappointment with O'Neill "who I thought, being a hurling man from a small club in Laois, would understand the needs of hurling as opposed to other sports.

Instead he appears to be sticking in the boot at every opportunity and finding problems where there are none," the Cats selector claimed.

"His recent outburst against managers is outrageous. His comparisons to rugby and other games make no sense.

Hurling is a unique game. Rugby is much better viewed on TV so it suits managers to have laptops and there is no switching or moving of players. I say leave things alone, stop trying to fix things that are not broken."

He also complained: "If decisions are made in a club or indeed in any workplace by one party that affect another party, without consultation and sensible discussion ... Some people call it dictatorship."

He went on: "Recently we have seen various members of team managements speaking out against the new match regulations while it appears that their elected delegates to Central Council either voted in favour of the regulations or did not speak out against them.

"What is going on? Where is the consultation even within counties?"

Fogarty highlighted five main issues with the new regulations, namely:

• He questions how two people can look after 40 hurls, spare helmets and boots, and deliver water to a 145m x 90m area.

• He asks how can a player get a drink in the heat of battle if he must leave his marker and go to a water station 100m away?

• He asks how can a selector discuss players and team issues if sitting among subs and beside spectators? He claims the new regulation makes the role of selector "untenable".

• He asks what is wrong with having a doctor and physio on the line where they can react immediately?

• He asks what is wrong with the county secretary sitting on the line, writing substitute slips, instead of the manager having to shout him down from the stand?

In response, the above-mentioned official (who declined to be named) said it was generally felt that the issue of sideline congestion had to be tackled, and pointed to last year's verbal spat between Cody and Galway manager Anthony Cunningham as "an indicator. It's great for spectators but it's not the stuff you want to see going on in All-Ireland finals."

The official added that the job of the linesman and fourth official had become "nearly untenable" because of the congestion.