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Now for another ignored hurling rule - where's the balance?

Breheny Beat

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'Many free-takers are balancing the ball for so long that they may as well start that way, rather than lifting it off the ground' (stock picture)

'Many free-takers are balancing the ball for so long that they may as well start that way, rather than lifting it off the ground' (stock picture)

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'Many free-takers are balancing the ball for so long that they may as well start that way, rather than lifting it off the ground' (stock picture)

For reasons that remain unexplained, hurling referees have long since given up on applying the rules covering handpassing and steps and now a new oversight policy is beginning to take hold.

It concerns free-taking and the growing practice of lifting the ball, balancing it on the hurley and then making the strike.

Many free-takers are balancing the ball for so long that they may as well start that way, rather than lifting it off the ground.

It greatly increases their chances of getting in an accurate strike so you can't blame them but why aren't referees clamping down on it? The rule states that the striker must "lift the ball with the hurley at the first attempt and strike it with the hurley."

There's no mention of 'balancing time' but it's now quite common. Indeed, I have never seen referees penalise free-takers in that situation so why shouldn't they continue to give themselves an advantage?

As for too many steps and illegal handpassing, they are now so common that the relevant rules might as well be deleted. Better scrapped than ignored.

Irish Independent