Paudie Palmer on hurling: Bigger pitches, black cards and four points for a goal

Paudie Palmer on hurling: Bigger pitches, black cards and four points for a goal

Paddy Purcell of Laois is 'ankle tapped' by Danny Sutcliffe of Dublin, for which he was shown a yellow card, during the Leinster quarter-final at Croke Park. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

THE last time I had a sconce through the Bible and the Quran, it escaped my attention to check the total number of pages in both.

However, I would hazard a guess that if one was tasked with recording all the evidence of how things are different right now, the number of pages in the manuscript produced would exceed the total of the two religious documents combined.

On Sunday when we took up residence in the TV stadium to view the opening match in this year’s Munster Hurling Championship, a look out the window had us observing a cascade of the many shades of autumnal coloured leaves descending to carpet a fading green lawn.

Then I noticed a pumpkin that had been altered by an architecturally challenged member of the household sitting rather comfortably to the right of the entrance door. But look, what ever about the number of cases, this championship is all about preserving the mental health of the nation.

There was a time in this country when talk on that aspect of our wellbeing was rather muted — now it appears, that we can’t shut up about it. Maybe the match itself was reflective of how things are now so different.

Just take this statistic — a player, Tony Kelly, scores 17 points for a team who were lucky to come second against a side that did not raise one green flag.

I am aware that if the column ventures down the route of expressing some criticism of the ancient game, a missive suggesting that I should go back over the border to big-ball land could arrive by any one of the many modern means of communication.

But let me tell you — I have heard some whispers, which would indicate that belting points over from a couple miles does not necessarily translate into top-class entertainment. Some bemoan the way the game has changed.

Let’s be honest — the adoption of strength and conditioning programmes by the ordinary citizens, let alone the programmes that are an integral part of the intercounty scene, have enabled a whole plethora of players being able to raise white flags from distance.

I may have asked this question previously: who will be the first to score from a puck-out?

Over the past while, mostly resulting from the ongoing fixtures dilemma in relation to dual intercounty players, there has been calls for the unification of the national camogie and ladies football associations. I just wonder should the GAA go in the opposite direction, such is the perceived bias that exists in the lives of the big-ball practitioners in the present set-up.

Just take this Covid championship as an example. Clare hurlers who came a distant second on Sunday last are still in the championship.

However, when the Banner County football team goes to do battle, there is no safety net. Lose, and you’re out.

Clare’s Jack Browne and Kyle Hayes of Limerick. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Clare’s Jack Browne and Kyle Hayes of Limerick. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

This Saturday at 3.30pm in Semple Stadium, Cork should, and dare I say, will, defeat Waterford in the Munster semi-final — but then if they lose the Munster final, they will still proceed to the All-Ireland quarter-final to meet a team who will come through the qualifier route.

What’s on offer for the county football team? Again, we will call on our honesty traits. On Sunday week in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, they will play Kerry in the provincial semi-final. Do I need to go on? Lose, and there is no trap door.

In just over 10 days’ time, 19 of the counties who lined up at the starters tape for the Sam Maguire Handicap Chase will have exited, whereas the majority of those entered in the Liam McCarthy equivalent will be still running.

Parity of dual esteem!

Next, the infamous black card. It took a while, and a long while, for the puritanical hurling brothers to accept the prevalence of cynical fouling in their treasured game. I presume some of you will have seen the trip performed by Danny Suthcliffe on a Laois player in a most one-sided Leinster Championship game on Saturday last.

When the said incident was brought to the attention of the positively salivating panel on The Sunday Game, the impression given was along the lines of “we better stop this or we will get caught with the black card like the football clowns!”.

In football when Sean Cavanagh dragged down a Monaghan player a few years ago, the entertainer that is Joe Brolly created such a scene, that it set in motion a series of events which lead to the addition of black to the football rainbow. Time for dual colour of esteem.

Can we now ask, is it now high time to look at the dimensions of playing stage?

Reverting back to one of the opening furrows, where we mentioned the ability of the modern hurler to puck the sliotar, regardless of colour, from one end of the parish to the next, a strong argument could be put forward for suggesting that GAA pitches are no longer fit for hurling purpose.

To bring them up to date for the modern clashes, I would think, that most would need to be extended by 30m-40m!

Next, our final observation that may need addressing when it comes to the two disciplines.

As a few of you have mentioned, the lack of green flags does remove some of the magic that is an integral part of hurling. If this be the case, is it timely to separate the value of a goal on a hurling/football divide?

To get the debate in motion, leave the value of a green flag as it is for football, but let it be equal to four points in hurling.

Whereas I expect Cork to see off the challenge of Waterford, the meeting of Limerick and Tipperary in the other Munster semi-final could very well be described as a meeting of points versus goals.

Not alone last Sunday, but this Limerick team has displayed, on a number of other occasions, their penchant for providing a serious exercise regime for the white-flag men, while Tipperary’s road to 2019 glory was paved with green-flag activity.

It should be one serious encounter.

  • Contact: Twitter: @paudiep

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