Jackie Tyrrell fears hurling is becoming a ‘non-contact’ sport

Jackie Tyrrell is not happy with the way hurling is going.

Jackie Tyrrell was one of the greatest defenders of the modern hurling era. He was a serious operator and a tough-tackling defender, renowned for his man-marking skills.

He is a very good pundit, no-nonsense and straight to the point and he echoed John Kiely’s frustrations with the way hurling is going when speaking on Allianz League Sunday last night.

“I think John Kiely is 100% right. I think he’s forthright in his views and he’s 100% right. As we sit here tonight I would be deeply concerned for the game of hurling, where it’s going, the trends that have developed over the last two weekends. We always see these at the start of the league. Referees are whistle happy,” Tyrrell said.

Tyrrell feels hurling is becoming a free-taking contest.

“Looking over the broad spectrum of games, there were 48 frees in Westmeath and Waterford, there were 36 in Galway and Limerick. We’re seeing glorified free-taking competitions. Donal Burke (scored) 15 points from frees, Evan Niland 14 points, Jason Forde double digits. Are we going down the route of non-contact in hurling?

“The physicality which is key to the game of hurling and attracts us to it is being pushed further and further out of it. The free-flowing electricity that oozes through important games.”

Tyrrell feels the GAA are focusing on smaller things like the water break, which he feels are tactical discussions, and noted that Wexford’s Matthew O’Hanlon was sent off rather harshly against Clare.

Tyrrell thinks physicality is going out of the game.

“We’ve no fans, I understand that, but I just see the GAA looking at things – yeah they’re important, but not as important as honing and minding the physicality.

“They’re looking at things like water breaks – I see water breaks with not much water being drank. There are discussions, there are conversations, there are tactic boards out, they brought in the seven substitutions which is the right thing to do in the league, but they’re looking at all the wrong things.

“This sin-bin – I’m all for it and it was a huge hullabaloo over it – to my mind in division one, there’s been three so far over two weekends. Yet the important things that are staring us in the face, what I call cotton-wool frees. Matthew O’Hanlon got sent off today. It was hardly a free,” he said.

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