GALWAY added their voice to the growing chorus of dissenters who feel the GAA were wrong when cutting back on the number of officials allowed do duty on the sidelines during inter-county matches.
“From a management point of view there are a whole lot of problems with it,” insisted Galway selector, Tom Helebert after Sunday’s National Hurling League win over Kilkenny. “From a players perspective too there are problems. How do you keep the machine working on the field? That is the biggest problem.”
Mr Helebert is a selector with Galway manager, Anthony Cunningham and Mattie Kenny (coach), and he was the one, like Kilkenny’s Martin Fogarty, who worked from the stand and was away from his colleagues during the match. The three Galway officials were interviewed together after Sunday’s game, and all were against the new rules which restict the number of working officials to five.
New rules no OK
Last week Kilkenny officials, Brian Cody and Martin Fogarty voiced their dissatisfaction with the new rules, and so too did Dublin boss, Anthony Daly.
Kilkenny set out their stall “quite strongly, and they were correct”, Mr Cunningham insisted.
“We never saw an issue with the sideline,” he continued. “There has never been hassle on the sideline at any inter-county match and we have been involved all our lives. I really don’t know.
“I am concerned about medical issues, and we only have two hurley carriers. The amount of water these lads would need during a match in the summer would be huge. We have to be fair to the players. In a top championship match you need all the assistance you can get.
“This was never an issue. I don’t know where these proposals come out of.”
Managing things from the sideline was difficult enough, and there was no point in making things even more difficult, Mr Helebert argued.
“Being close to the sideline you are engaged in the dialogue directly,” he continued. “Being remote, like being in the stand, you are not engaged. The bigger issue is how to communicate with the lads firstly. Besides that, you are at the mercy of the crowd.
“We have a link up system, but on a noisy day you can’t hear it. That won’t change. On top of that, you are at the mercy of every rogue in the place (in the stand) who wants to tell you what you are doing wrong, because you are sitting in the middle of the crowd.
“We can’t figure out where this is coming from. From our positition, and last year when we competing in Croke Park and elsewhere, we understood the protocols and rules. If you over stepped the rule you were fined. There was a good process there. It was an established process.
“Those rules have been changed, and in our case there is one guy removed from the process. It doesn’t work.”
In relation to the match itself, Mr Cunningham said the fare was “typical of a first match of the season” where there were a lot of cobwebs on both sides.
“We found it hard to put them away when we were in pole position a few times,” he continued. “That performance won’t see us getting by the next day. We battled hard. That was the big thing we asked for. We hope to drive on from here.
“Kilkenny had all their backs, bar one to start with. Richie Power and Richie Hogan controlled things for a while. We were happy with some of our new players, Davy Glennon and Joseph Cooney. Look, it is about finding players too in the League. We would be happy from that perspective.
“We will concentrate on playing Clare now.”
Mattie Kenny reminded that Galway will represent Connacht in the Railway Cup final next weekend, a match which was really useful to them in terms of giving players more game time.
“During the next few weeks we have a lot of work to do,” he continued. “We knew in January and February we would be behind in our touch and ball work. We need to bring that up. What is the date? It is early in the season. There is lots of time to pick up on those things.
“It was a workmanlike performance, without being brilliant. We looked sharp for the three goals. The goals were good, but we went in at half-time with only four points scored. If we had eight or nine points with the three goals then it would have been something to build on.
“Four points weren’t enough. Kilkenny were still in the game. We lost the second half by a point, really.”