"I can't believe this rubbish is still going on" - hurling finally clamping down on 'dud' sliotars
A lot of fuss about sweet puck-all.
Hurlers and their sliotars are like Christy Moore and his audience. Thick as thieves when things are singing but when something's wrong, something's really wrong.
It was news to us when an Irish Examiner article revealed on Thursday that nowadays, it's gotten to the stage where inter-county teams nominate their preferred sliotar before games. If the opposition team nominates that same brand of sliotar, then the game will be played using that sliotar. If the opposition nominate a different brand, then there will be an equal mix of the two brands floating around on match day.
The topic came up for discussion on Thursday's GAA Hour Show where Colm Parkinson, Paddy Stapleton and Conal Keaney discussed the underground and often murky world of sliotars in hurling.
"Clare can nominate the sliotar they want to use on Sunday and Waterford can nominate the sliotar they want to use. Now will Clare find out what sliotar Waterford are nominating? And on the week leading up to a big game, will ye get a bag of balls that the other team are using? This nearly blew my mind as well. Because in football, a ball is a ball," said Colm Parkinson.
"When do you get word of what brand the other team is using Conal?" asked Wooly.
The Championship is here, the hurling is near, nature is healing 🌞
- Concussions then vs concussions now
- Sliotar chips, chops and changes
- Don’t be writing off Laois and Antrim@Woolberto, @pasaint and @ConalKeaney talking the talk 👊
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"I never knew that. There was always talk of teams in Munster that would use the Cummins. It would never come into the training sessions where we'd have to change the balls. We'd just get on with it," remarked Keaney.
"You would notice the difference in a match. And if you were hitting a free, you'd make sure the fella coming in with the water would have the ball you want.
"I don't know why we can't just say there are one or two official manufacturers for sliotars at this stage. You can't really police it. We would have had Garry Maguire in goals and he'd have had five or six different sliotars in with him that we would have liked."
Paddy Stapleton sees goalkeepers and their specifications, free-takers and their demands and he can't help but feel that when it comes to the business of sliotars, it's all gone a bit too far.
"I can't believe this rubbish is still going on. Hotpoint would be fairly well known, he was our kit-man but his heart used to be broken by free-takers and and goalies. Brendan Cummins and Darren Gleeson you know, they wouldn't want a certain brand of sliotar, that they didn't think was as nice. The fight was always going on 'we don't want these sliotars."
"A free-taker might put down one brand of sliotar for his first free and the second free it might be a different brand. To them these could be a world apart over the size of rims and how bouncy the ball is. You hear them talking about sliotars waving in the air too."
The latest is that, in the future, sliotars will contain microchips so as to ensure that each sliotar is standardised and Paddy Stapleton agrees with this development.
"We've everything else right, hurleys, boots. The ball is the main thing so it is important that it is actually right. You would have heard of stories down through the years of dud-balls being thrown out for penalties, I know Eoin Kelly got one one day."