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Hurling hand passes under the spotlight, a day for free-takers and Cork-Limerick intensity

Limerick’s John Kiely was left frustrated with the volume of frees awarded yesterday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Cian Lynch in action for Limerick against Cork.
Cian Lynch in action for Limerick against Cork.
Image: Ken Sutton/INPHO

LIMERICK BOSS JOHN Kiely believes hurling coaches will have to start focusing more on the technique for hand passes and hopes referees will start to ‘err on the side of caution’ in their decisions.

Kiely was visibly frustrated on the sideline in Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday, three of his players penalised for hand passes with Cork’s Patrick Horgan pointing the resultant placed balls.

The 2018 All-Ireland winning manager felt the Division 1 league game was affected by the volume of frees awarded by referee Sean Cleere with Limerick’s Aaron Gillane and his counterpart Horgan scoring a combined total of 0-26 from placed balls.

Kiely also pointed out that the intensity of the match was not comparable to what can be expected when the counties meet in their Munster opener on 10 May.

“Let’s be honest about it, the tempo and the intensity of the game was only a six, like. When we come back here in May and there’s 40,000-odd outside there it’ll be a different ball game for both sides in terms of intensity.

“It (the refereeing) didn’t help the game today; it was very stop-start. There was obviously a clear emphasis on the striking action in the hand-pass. That was one thing that came from both fixtures, last night and today, which is obviously a challenge to us in a coaching capacity to try and re-emphasis the need for that.

“I can’t say if any of them were or weren’t throw balls – I’d have to look back at them again – but it doesn’t help the game when it’s being blown as frequently as it is for that particular skill. At the end of the day, the hand-pass is there to allow the player to move the ball on in circumstances where they can’t use the hurley. And for what reason? To keep the game flowing.

patrick-horgan-prepares-for-a-free Patrick Horgan lines up a free for Cork. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

“It’s probably the technique the modern player uses right across the country. They’re all using a more fluent movement. It is challenging to referee that aspect of the game but at the same time sometimes you need to err on the side of caution.

“For example, if a player hasn’t anybody making physical contact with him he has the time to make a clear striking action. The player would only throw the ball if he was in a situation where he is under severe pressure and needed to throw the ball because he couldn’t get a striking action. But listen I don’t want to get bogged down in that aspect of it either. At the same time, we would all like to see less frees in the game.

“There are probably two challenges there – one for us in a coaching capacity and looking at the technical aspects and re-emphasising the need for a striking action and maybe on the other side the officials will hopefully err on the side of caution.”

Kiely was pleased with the manner of his side’s finish to the game and the accuracy of their shooting.

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“Cork came with a big charge in the second half and that was to be expected, really. They really upped their intensity levels in the first 15 minutes of the second half and we didn’t really respond at that particular time.

“So the challenge came, they took the lead and we rolled the dice with a few guys coming off the bench then and got fresh legs and minds in there. We hadn’t had a game in three weeks and probably trained quite hard and fellas just maybe weren’t as fresh as they might have liked. The lads made a big impact coming off the bench so I was particularly pleased with that aspect.

“I don’t know what our wide tally was in the end but it (shooting) was quite good today. It was good and we often get criticised for it but it’s only one day. We would like to have created a goalscoring chance or two but it just didn’t quite happen that way today.”

Yesterday was Limerick’s first match in three weeks after the postponement last Saturday night of their fixture against Waterford. With the weather impacting on the league schedule, the viability of current format has been brought into question.

Kiely has no problem with the frequency of games.

“We are quite happy with games every week but it’s just a pity that the weather gods aren’t playing along with us. It’s been really bad for the last few weeks and it’s not looking any better for the next 10 days and next weekend is looking ropey as well.

“It’s the time of the year and sometimes you get a good run at it and other you don’t – we are quite happy playing week-in, week-out and I am sure every other player in the country is the same. I don’t think there is very much room for manoeuvre now – that’s the only thing.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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