Noel McGrath opposed to use of extra-time in hurling semi-finals

Tipperary star convinced that a replay is a better solution for all concerned

Noel McGrath: “Every team is fit enough to play the 90 minutes but in my own opinion the replay would be the preferred option.” Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Noel McGrath: “Every team is fit enough to play the 90 minutes but in my own opinion the replay would be the preferred option.” Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

The introduction of extra-time for this year’s All-Ireland semi-finals has been questioned by Tipperary hurler Noel McGrath.

McGrath echoed Cork manager John Meyler, stressing he was not making excuses following defeat to Limerick last Sunday, who highlighted an imbalance on the premise that the extra 20 minutes is not resorted to for drawn provincial finals.

“I would say a replay after full-time,” said McGrath. “I suppose if you take a provincial final, it will go straight to a replay and the team that loses that still has a chance to come through the back door, whereas an All-Ireland semi-final is the last chance saloon.

“Like, if we’re going to get games like we did last Sunday, why wouldn’t a replay be a great spectacle for people?

“I think the GAA are probably trying to cut down on matches and get them finished on the day, and they have their reasons for that, which is fair enough. But from a player’s point of view, to get recovered and to get ready to go again, a replay would be my preferred personal opinion.”

The additional 10 minutes in each half, with injury time amounting to over 25 minutes, to avoid a replay – which is needed anyway for Clare versus Galway – has raised concerns about player welfare.

Several hurlers suffered soft tissue injuries in the 70-90 time period last weekend. Current hurler of the year Joe Canning badly jarred his knee on the turf and was replaced on 82 minutes but he’s still expected to feature at Semple Stadium in Sunday’s replay.

“It can be tough on the body and you saw there were players who went off and then came back on again,” said McGrath. “It is tough on the body and I’m sure there’s bodies that are still very, very sore today and will be for the week. And that’s just the way it is.”

Fit enough

McGrath, speaking at a GAA/HSE alcohol awareness campaign in Croke Park, said players are able to cope with the extra-time but he believes they deserve a replay.

“The strain on your body after 70 minutes is tough as well. Every team is fit enough to play the 90 minutes but in my own opinion the replay would be the preferred option.”

On having to play four matches in quick succession, under the new championship structures, McGrath added: “It was tough going because it was totally new but the hurling championship has been successful. It would be easier to say it wasn’t as we didn’t get through but everyone wants more games. Players just want games. Other years you are waiting six, seven weeks, it’s hard to keep training in that time. You train to play matches.”

The Loughmore-Castleiney man remains unmoved about the debate about sliotars travelling further distances than ever before, due to a smaller rim and modern hurley design.

“If you look at the style of play, a lot of teams are playing the ball through the lines, and shorter passing so maybe the ball might move faster and longer from puck outs, but at the same time players are trying to find people more than they used to, rather than just driving it the length of the field.

“So I don’t really think it’s as big an issue as you might think.”

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