Sunday 22 April 2018

Collins fears free-for-all as O'Neill calls for forum

Podge Collins
Podge Collins
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

One of the young Clare forwards, who helped to illuminate the 2013 hurling championship, has warned of the potential for a "free-for-all" if cards are removed from the game.

Podge Collins was speaking at yesterday's launch of the Allianz Hurling League at Croke Park, where GAA president Liam O'Neill revealed that he would be asking Central Council to approve a forum for open debate on the game.

O'Neill said the move was in response to the reaction stoked by Kilkenny manager Brian Cody and former Galway boss Cyril Farrell in response to Eddie Keher's submission of a document to GAA headquarters calling for the abolition of cards from hurling and a reversion to the pre-1999 system of booking a player before sending him off for a repeat offence.

O'Neill said he was prepared to listen to all views in a format which Central Council would decide upon at its next meeting.


However, the GAA president stopped short of saying it would mirror the Football Review, Committee, whose deliberations led to the introduction of the black card in Gaelic football.

Nor does he think the debate will solely focus on cards and the disciplinary system deployed in hurling.

"I'd like this debate to be about hurling. You can get bogged down on cards or whatever other suggestions are out there. I don't want to be in any way prescriptive on this. This is going to be an open debate. We're not taking a position on it," said O'Neill.

"I'm going to make no further comment on cards, because I don't want people saying that I'm trying to influence it. And that's it. So let's talk. Let's hear people's views. Our position now will be to sit back, listen to people's views and then formulate suggestions."

O'Neill added: "It is interesting listening to both Eddie (Keher) and Brian (Cody) – they say they want nothing changed and yet they suggest change.

"So, we are going to accept the challenge. People want a debate on hurling. It has come from Kilkenny, which is great, because they have been to the fore in hurling over the last number of years.

"Obviously, there is an appetite for discussion. So, let's do it. Let's get talking to hurling people, listen to them all give their views."

O'Neill (pictured below) stressed that elite hurling counties would not have the floor to themselves when it comes to discussion. "Everybody's opinion on hurling counts," he said.

For his part, Collins doesn't believe the removal of cards would serve any useful purpose and has warned of consequences.

"You couldn't just not have cards, there'd be a free- for-all. That just wouldn't make sense at all," said the 22-year-old.

Collins prefers the idea of a video referee who could quickly review controversial incidents to make sure that the right call is being made.

"I suppose the one thing I'd say is just have someone upstairs that if an incident is iffy, then he could look over that once or twice or like Hawk-Eye last year, just to confirm it," he said.

Collins believes hurling remains a sufficiently physical game, despite the outcry over red cards issued last year and the effect on the exchanges it is potentially having.

"You only have to look at my hands really to see there is plenty of physicality in the game," he said.

"You don't want to take that out of it. That provides the entertainment and it's why people love the game so much.

"It's why people say it's one of the best field games on earth, if not the best. If you take the physicality out of it, you'll take a lot of the entertainment out of it as well."

Irish Independent

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