If it ain't broke, why fix it was the approach to hurling


Ian O'Riordan talks to Tipperary's Eoin Kelly who explains why the hurling task force was restrictive in its proposals for rules experiments.

The hurling task force was deliberately restrictive in its proposals for new rules experiments, according to Tipperary's Eoin Kelly. The All Star player was part of the six-man task force committee set up to examine the rules of the game, and whose proposals were announced earlier this week.

While the football task force proposed several rules experiments, hurling will try out just the two-point score for a sideline puck sent straight between the posts, though they will also introduce a sin bin, new powers for the linesmen and the clearer definitions of dangerous play.

"One of the main things said at the committee meetings was that the hurling in the championship was fine," said Kelly, "and there was very little wrong with it. In fact we generally felt there was nothing wrong with hurling. So it was more a question of what few things we might experiment with. And there was no talk of doing anything major because there was nothing major going wrong. I think this year's hurling championship was as good as it ever was, so the whole committee was more or less saying hurling rules were fine the way they were."

Kelly was, surprisingly, a little unsure about whether the rules experiments would come into force for the leagues - which they do. But he was clear about the need to examine their consequences before deciding to implement them for good.

"We'll just have to see how it goes," he added. "That's what the experiment is there for. We had the situation a few years ago when the goalkeeper's puck-out started the game. That didn't work, because the atmosphere was gone out of the start of the game so that had to be done away with. So these rules might be done away with too, but it will be nice to see what happens."

Kelly has been known to send a sideline puck between the posts: "Well not too many now, to be honest. But I'm sure there'll be a lot of lads trying to put them over for the two points during the league. But we just thought we could maybe improve the skill level of the game a small little bit."

The most significant change in hurling and football is arguably the introduction of a sin bin, with a player being sent off for 10 minutes on receipt of their first yellow card. Kelly agreed that was likely to be the way forward.

"I think it had to be tried, especially now that so many other sports are doing it. And we saw things again this year such as Tommy Walsh being sent off, and there wasn't really anything dirty or nasty in it. So 10 minutes in the sin bin could be better than a red card, because the player could just be under pressure at that particular time."

Although players are likely to lose much of their rhythm and flow by being sin binned, Kelly believed it is a just punishment: "That's your own fault. But take, say, that incident between Brian O'Meara and Liam Dunne in 2001. That wasn't really a sending-off situation because it happens every day of the week. So if the referee had the authority to say 10 minutes in the bin, I think most lads would be embarrassed by it, and it would definitely help calm them down."