THE head of the GAA's national referees committee has called for a major improvement in the performance of hurling referees next year, claiming that "seven or eight" clear red card offences went unpunished last summer.
Pat McEnaney delivered this pretty damning assessment in the same week that former GAA president Nickey Brennan questioned how two "very serious" incidents - perpetrated against Kilkenny players at the business end of the championship - effectively went unpunished.
There has long been a suspicion - especially against 'football people' - that hurling was refereed in a far more laissez-faire way than its big ball counterpart. Now it has taken a former football referee, once regarded as the best in the business, to infer this may well be the case.
NRC chairman McEnaney admitted: "As a group, I'd have to say we weren't happy with it. There were only two red cards in this year's (hurling) championship. We felt in our review that there should have been seven or eight more red cards that were clear offences. That's a figure of 16 percent that we are getting right, which is not satisfactory."
The Monaghan man didn't go into specifics but, writing in his 'Kilkenny People' column, Brennan pinpointed two incidents that clearly infuriated supporters of the All-Ireland champions.
Michael Rice required major surgery - inclusion the insertion of seven pins - after shipping a blow to his hand during their All-Ireland semi-final against Tipperary, while TJ Reid was left with a fractured kneecap after the All-Ireland final replay against Galway.
According to Brennan: "The two incidents involving Rice and Reid were very serious, and we are once again left wondering how the GAA can punish aggressors if such incidents are not handled properly by the match officials."
The Kilkenny official went on write: "I know that some Kilkenny people have stepped over the line on occasions and were rightly punished for their misdemeanours. Such punishment was accepted and the team moved on to the next challenge.
"It is therefore ironic that at the end of another championship year, two of Kilkenny's star men, TJ Reid and Michael Rice, will play no part in their clubs' current championship campaign.
"Both were the victims of appalling indiscipline in which the perpetrators went unpunished for reckless use of the hurley," Brennan complains.
CLARE hurler Seadna Morey has been named Bord Gáis Energy 'Breaking Through' player of the year for 2012, in honour of being the Banner's star man in their march to this year's All-Ireland U21 hurling title.