Sport Hurling

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Clampdown on Nash-style free-taking will encourage cynical fouling, warns Carey

Kilkenny legend urges Congress to rethink 'unfair' proposal he believes will slash goalscoring from frees and penalties by 90pc

"This will play right into the hands of defenders"
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

THE GAA's planned crackdown on hurlers who steal several metres on penalties and 20-metre frees will lead to a dramatic reduction in goal-scoring while also encouraging cynical fouling.

That's according to DJ Carey, who has expressed alarm at the proposal which will make it illegal for penalty and free-takers to step inside the 20-metre line when striking the ball.

He believes that the goal rate will drop dramatically as strikers will find it much more difficult to beat the goalkeeper and two defenders from further out.

"This will play right into the hands of cynical defenders. If a player is fouled in the square, it means he was in an excellent goal-scoring position.

"He might be only a few metres from the goal in a one-on-one situation but if he's fouled he has to go back out and take a free from outside the 20-metre line against three opponents. He's the fouled party, yet the advantage is handed back to the opposition who committed the offence in the first place. That's unfair," said Carey (right), a noted goal specialist from frees and open play during his playing days.

Arising from Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash's ability to gain up to six metres before striking the ball, a special rules committee is proposing that strikers not be allowed to encroach inside the 20-metre line.

It will be considered by Congress next month and, if passed, will be in operation for this year's championship.

"Anthony Nash deserves great credit for the way he is able to gain so much ground. A lot of things can go wrong when you toss the ball as far forward as he does but he has perfected the art," said the Kilkenny legend.

"But instead of getting credit for working on what is a real skill, it's now proposed to change the rule and give an extra advantage back to the team which fouled in the first place.

"If there's to be a change, it should either penalise fouls in the square by taking a penalty from the 13-metre line with three in the goal or from the 20-metre line against the goalkeeper only.

"Instead, it will pay to foul in the square more than ever. How can that be good for hurling?

"In my opinion, the number of goals scored from penalties and close-in frees will drop by as much as 90pc if this rule is changed."

He describes as "pure rubbish" suggestions that it's dangerous to have players facing free-takers who have made several metres before striking.

"What about open play? A forward might be only a few metres from the goalkeeper or a defender when shooting for goal, so why should it be more dangerous from a free? That argument doesn't hold up at all."

Carey believes that trials should be carried out to ascertain the precise impact of the proposed change and insists that they would prove his point regarding a sizeable reduction in goal-scoring.

"In rugby, a penalty try can be awarded in certain circumstances when the defending team fouls close to the line.

"Failing that, a penalty can be awarded a few metres from the goal-line," he said.

"I'm not advocating that hurling moves in that direction but, at the same time, it shows how rugby treats deliberate fouling to stop a try.

"Now, it looks as if a big advantage is to be handed to the offending team in hurling."

He is concerned that the proposed rule amendment will be passed by Congress without fully considering the implications.

"This is a serious issue for hurling. If this rule is changed it will be bad for the game as it will pay more than ever to foul in the square," said Carey.

"That's hardly what people want to see."

Irish Independent

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