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08th May 2023

“That’s not being a tough man” – Donal Óg and Jackie call out hurling’s head-high hits

Niall McIntyre

There were two head-high hits in the hurling at the weekend – but there were no red cards issued.

Both Cillian Kiely and Darragh Fitzgibbon were taken out of it by what Donal Óg Cusack has labelled as ‘cheap shots,’ but both of the men responsible got away with yellow cards.

Speaking on The Sunday Game, hurling pundits Donal Óg Cusack and Jackie Tyrrell agreed that both Ronan Maher and Mikey Boyle should have been red carded.

“We saw Cillian Kiely here today for Offaly,” said Tyrrell, “the head was nearly taken off of him today, the helmet went and I think he failed a HIA afterwards.

“Ronan Maher knew exactly what he was doing there [with that tackle Darragh Fitzgibbon] and it should have been a red card.”

“There have been flash points we’ve seen earlier in the round robin – with Seamus Flanagan as well.”

Head-high hits are becoming more dangerous, according to Tyrrell, due to advances in speed and S and C, and both he and Cusack agree that they needed to be punished more severely and more consistently.

“We have to understand that strength and conditioning plays a huge roll in this.

“Players are never more physical, they’re never more conditioned and they’re moving at a quicker pace which means the G-force they’re carrying is huge right.”

“Now I’m not going to sit here with a sugar-spoon and saw I haven’t contributed to the culture of that because I’ve done that in my day,” added Tyrrell.

“I probably did worse things, so I have a role in that. We all do.

“Maybe not Donal Óg because he plays in the goal and lots of times I would have liked to have done it to him, but I never got down that far,” he added.

Donal Óg nodded the head as if to say ‘get a load of this guy.’

“But it’s now at a situation where the GAA now need to have to have a look at it,” said Tyrrell.

“It’s worrying to see these head incidents and guys getting belts and concussions because we’ve seen what has happened in the rugby world and I think the GAA need to look at it very seriously.

“Because the duty is on the player responsible to take accountability for it.”

The legendary Cork custodian says that, instead of giving players the benefit of the doubt, red cards should be given in the case of these head high hits.

“Culture is the biggest word there. This gets mixed up with this ‘hard-man stuff’ as if catching someone off-guard with a shoulder or an elbow is being a tough man,” he said.

“That’s not being a tough man at all. That’s taking cheap shots. If one of our players can’t see another player coming – it’s the duty of the player who’s tackling to protect the other player. We get that the game is fast, but those incidences, there was no question they should have been red cards.

“We need to err on the side of issuing red cards, and not the other way around. Then I guarantee you those elbows and shoulders will stop. Because there’s very few accidents happen in top level sport.”

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