Future is yellow for our sliotars but is the ball too light in modern hurling?

Mark Woods suggest we should change measurements in a sliotar to make it that bit more challenging to score points from way out the field...
Future is yellow for our sliotars but is the ball too light in modern hurling?

Cathal Malone of Clare in action against Ryan Mullaney of Laois at UPMC Nowlan Park this season. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

SO, they’re going fitting micro-chips into sliotars now and they’ll be yellow only in a season or two.

Apparently, the GAA used them on a trial basis in the U20 championships during the year and there were hardly any dissenting voices.

Indeed, such was its success that Croke Park have decided to introduce them as the lone sliotar permitted in next season’s All-Ireland senior championship and the lower tier competitions, as well.

Will it add or dilute people’s fascination in attending/watching games or will they even notice?

In fact, you’ll probably find it will make no difference to either player or spectator though those with eye-sight challenges are said to be able to follow a yellow ball easier than the traditional white. That’s spectators, by the way, not the hurlers.

The reason for all this?

The GAA’s attempts to regulate the production of sliotars which haven’t been confined to these shores solely for years now.

It has led to a lack of uniformity in the ball, varying from one county to the next and even within counties and it’s only a matter of time before clubs will have to adapt, as well, though that’s further down the road.

There are standard measurements for the rim diameter, width and height, mass weight, thickness of the leather and laminated coating.

January, 2024, is earmarked as the date for the introduction of the yellow sliotar across the board and experts say the colour will not make any difference to the sliotar’s performance.

So, all’s well with the ancient art? Maybe and then again maybe not, depending on your point of view of course.

And there’s no pun intended in asking a rather simple question, ‘are there too many points in games these days’?

Take last weekend’s dozen games in the county premier senior and senior A championships which produced practically the same total of points scored in the six matches apiece in the two grades.

There were 226 points scored in the top tier and 227 scored in the section below which averaged out at over 37 points per match.

We all know at this stage that defenders, half-backs in particular, raise pulse rates with their long-range shooting, often from ridiculous distances and angles.

Declan Hannon has raised many a Limerick roar from the key number six position and closer to home Blarney’s Mark Coleman isn’t adverse to pointing from near the next parish either.

It has spread to the club game, too, if the evidence supplied by Douglas veteran Mark Harrington and young prodigy Cillian O’Donovan against Midleton last weekend is any yardstick.

 Conor Lehane, Midleton, tries to block down Mark Harrington, Douglas last weekend. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Conor Lehane, Midleton, tries to block down Mark Harrington, Douglas last weekend. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Both enjoyed an equal share of six points from play in their victory over the champions while Sean O’Leary-Hayes also found the range from the Magpies’ half-back line, also.

I’m sure there were plenty of other games dotted by such scores like Bride Rovers captain Paddy O’Flynn, who hit a couple of beauties against Carrigtwohill with corner-back Jordan Mannix also getting in on the act as did Carrig’s Pat O’Sullivan.

Ideal conditions of a firm sod, dry ball and a warm breeze allow for players to open their shoulders and have a cut from long-range, but has it come too easy?

Maybe the GAA missed a trick by asking that very question instead of changing the colour of the sliotar and sticking in chips, laudable as they are and all.

Could they not change measurements in a sliotar to make it that bit more challenging to score points from way out the field and possibly encourage teams to try for goals instead?

There was a big disparity in the number of goals scored in those club games, just nine in premier senior, but 19 in senior A.

Five of the dozen teams in the top-flight didn’t manage one, though two, Bishopstown and Newtownshandrum, both won while Charleville drew.

Two was the highest number of goals recorded, Douglas, who won, and St Finbarr’s, who shared the spoils, as the championship openers averaged 1.5 goals per game.

It was over three in senior A with Bride topping the charts with five, one more than three clubs though Killeagh and Mallow lost. Five teams couldn’t find a goal even if Courcey Rovers managed to win.

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