Here are the five main talking points from Sunday’s hurling action.
There were a lot of topics up for debate after Sunday’s hurling games. The action was not the most entertaining however, there has been a huge fall-out over the weekend, based on the referee’s interpretation of the rules. We look at the five main talking points from yesterday’s action.
Poor games to watch so far in the league.
Sunday’s matches led to a lot of former hurling players and managers critical of how the rules are being interpreted, though that hasn’t been the only factor contributing to poor spectacle’s so far in hurling.
The league games seem to be glorified challenge games, as most teams seem to be immune from the threat of relegation. It may have been better to slightly alter the format and have a knockout stage in the league. the fact that there are no knock-out ties means there is no real incentive for teams to go all out to win the games.
It is unlikely that there will even be a league final, so there may well be no undisputed winners of this competition. Division One hurling seems to be very flat.
The number of frees certainly is not helping the spectacle. However, the games should improve when there is more at stake and the do or die Championship encounters may also have limited crowds present, which should give the already massive games more energy to thrive on.
Just back from Thurles and I have to say hurling is in a dangerous place! Too many short puckouts, hand passes, lateral passes and most players filtering back. It’s essentially turned into football! And that I’m afraid is no compliment?
— Brian Carroll (@BrianCarroll13) May 15, 2021
Limerick need to start winning again.
John Kiely was not happy with the officiating over the first two weekends and accused Galway players of simulation yesterday, but the main talking point from that game was that Limerick were very much second best.
Limerick’s opening two league games against Tipperary and Galway have both been poor performances. They look flat and look about 10 per cent of the team that won every game last season between pre-season, league, and Championship. They were the first team to do this since 1961 and they squandered their 14 game unbeaten run yesterday.
Limerick’s next three ties are against Waterford (a), Cork (h), and Westmeath (a). If they can win those three ties, which they’re expected to do, the All-Ireland champions will have regained all of their positive momentum ahead of facing Cork in the Munster semi-final.
Limerick are relentless and machine-like and share a lot of similarities with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City team. Although, you’d have to wonder about the Alex Ferguson like media tactics employed by Kiely yesterday, as his post-match comments have shifted the focus away from his side’s dismal display.
Clare not as bad as the results suggest.
Brian Lohan can’t buy a break at the moment. The off-season coverage was dominated by off the field issues and they’ve lost their opening two games. Also their talisman Tony Kelly went off injured yesterday.
Clare were seven points ahead on Sunday and the game looked won, but they got a man sent off and Wexford stole a win at the death. The previous week they lost to Antrim narrowly, having been six points up at one stage.
Clare’s match next week against Laois is huge. It is vital that they win it, or else they could find themselves in a relegation play-off. They beat Laois by one point in the 2020 Championship and will find it tough to beat them this weekend.
However, if Clare can muster a victory this weekend and pick up another win against Dublin or Kilkenny in their final two games, they could see themselves in a good place ahead of facing Waterford in the first round of the Munster Championship.
Clare could easily have won one if not both of their first two games and then the narrative around them would be completely different. Their performances across the opening two rounds have not been terrible, in contrast to their results.
Lohan will hope to weather this storm and claim a win this weekend – even if it comes at all costs!
Hurling in Antrim in a great place, with another solid performance on Sunday.
Antrim had been 12 games unbeaten between league and Championship, before losing out to Kilkenny yesterday. However, they gave Brian Cody’s side a serious run for their money. Antrim were level in the 46th minute having missed a penalty in the opening half.
They would feel relatively confident of claiming at least one more win in their final three games against Dublin, Wexford and Laois and will not fear Dublin at all in the first round of the Leinster Championship.
Antrim have all the ingredients to be a top hurling force. They have tradition and interest and a big population. Hurling is growing very fast in Belfast city as well.
They have three clubs as good as any in Ireland in Dunloy Cuchullains, Loughgiel Shamrocks and Ruairi Og CLG, Cushendall. Ballycastle is also a hurling stronghold.
There were always fantastic hurlers in Antrim, who are serial underachievers, though Darren Gleeson seems to be the missing link. Director of hurling Neal Peden is top class as well. They’re definitely here to stay.
Offaly and Down record fantastic results.
Offaly defeated Kerry by 21 points yesterday. It was an absolute whitewash. Kerry were missing talisman Shane Conway due to injury and he wasn’t their only absentee, yet they could not foresee the hammering they received. Offaly are now red hot favourites to be promoted back to division one.
Down hurling got a massive boost, when Ronan Sheehan’s side recorded a superb 3-20 to 3-18 win over Carlow in Ballycran on Sunday. This was a fantastic result for the Ulster side, who are on the way up. They stunned Offaly in last years Christy Ring Cup and yesterday’s win was further evidence of their progression.
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