Hurling’s top teams show disciplinary gaps to lead the spring tide of red cards


Waterford hurling manager Liam Cahill’s reaction on the touchline to Austin Gleeson’s red card against Wexford last Sunday required no captions or a speech bubble.

It was clear that his talented striker’s action in a game they won so easily was a source of frustration, regardless of what provoked it in the first place.

Gleeson subsequently waived a hearing and accepted the one-game suspension associated with the misdemeanor, which saw him disqualified from tomorrow’s Allianz Division 1 League Finals.

Waterford are currently on the rise and are seen by many, along with league final opponents Cork, as the biggest threat to Limerick’s dominance as their sides dig deeper roots.

But with the urge to be more competitive and confrontational in preparation for what lies ahead, disciplinary gaps have emerged.

Gleeson last Sunday, DJ Foran against Kilkenny the week before when he caught Mikey Butler high as the Kilkenny defender emerged from a ruck, Colin Dunford against Antrim and Conor Prunty for two yellow cards against Dublin, a game that ended May 12 yellow cards, two blacks and two reds (Dublin’s Cian O’Callaghan was also sent off for two yellows) all received their marching orders this spring.

The perception is that the All-Ireland champions are the team playing most ‘on the fringes’ or above, with three red cards in five league games, Gearóid Hegarty v Limerick, Séamus Flanagan v Cork and Aaron Gillane for a double yellow against Clare. But Waterford also have another red card with another game played, four out of six.

Combined, that’s nearly half of the 16 red cards dealt so far in this year’s hurling league, at a rate of one for every two games (32 games played).

A high number? It seems so, especially for a competition that has taken on developmental character. Laois also had three red cards, which gives them pause as well.

The point is that referees have been more ruthless against head-to-head tackles and in the case of Cork’s Foran, Flanagan and Shane Kingston this was the case.

And for a good reason. Kingston was shown red for a high tackle on Limerick’s Seán Finn. The contract defender then admitted that he suffered from memory loss and severe headaches as a result.

But referee sources say there’s no specific crackdown on head-to-head challenges, certainly no more than in other years, and indeed at least three, possibly four, have been identified as missed in recent reviews.

The focus of the hurling umpires seems to be more on excessive steps and thrown hand passes than anything else.

Red cards in football league were executed at a lower rate.

There were 13 out of 28 games but one, Monaghan’s Conor McManus v Armagh, was subsequently rescinded.

Five came in a game, the second round Armagh/Tyrone league game, when referee David Gough decided to apply the full rigor of the rule governing ‘contribution to a hand-to-hand combat’, something that now applies to five Armagh/Donegal players in the game, who face a similar charge after their game in Letterkenny last weekend.

That’s four fewer cards from four fewer games played, but in a game where contact and using the hand to tackle are more common, that shouldn’t be the case.

Historically, the league has been a testing ground for strict refereeing enforcement, which has eased as the season progressed. A collision in February could be viewed differently in July.

But this year, there was no such specific approach to preseason. A certain carelessness has crept in that could make this time economically more costly. Hurling’s top teams show disciplinary gaps to lead the spring tide of red cards

Fry Electronics Team

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