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Liam O'Neill has sympathy for Anthony Nash but is happy that hurling 'is safe again'

The GAA President is glad that safety concerns have been addressed over close-range freetaking.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

GAA PRESIDENT LIAM O’Neill has expressed sympathy that the spotlight fell on Anthony Nash over the recent furore over freetaking but revealed the GAA are satisfied with the situation after last week’s rule change and that hurling is now ‘safe again’.

The GAA last week moved to address safety concerns by ruling that players were no longer allowed to strike the ball within the 20m line.

Last Sunday, Cork opted to employ Patrick Horgan to take the frees and he found the net twice against Clare with Nash remaining in goal.

“We’re actually at the point now where we wanted to be before Congress,” outlined O’Neill.  ”We weren’t getting the support for Congress. We tried to do it at Central Council but certain counties said they were going to take it all the way if we did.

“Then we had the situation where the game took place in Thurles and the Waterford goalie putting his own particular interpretation on things. We felt we could do it with the set of circumstances after that game. What was open to us was to interpret the rule and we’ve interpreted it.

“We’ve had the 100% backing of our management committee and almost the complete backing of Central Council. We’re at a stage now where the game is safe again, where our rules are being applied. All along, I said my worry was about safety and it wasn’t about senior hurlers.

Liam O'Neill GAA President Liam O'Neill. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“I was always more concerned about the children coming into their teenage years where you could have a small goalie faced with somebody who is almost adult-sized. Having the ball fired at him from 13 metres at enormous speed and the danger of an injury, which could have catastrophic consequences.

“I met Anthony Nash on the All Star tour and he’s a fine young man. I was sorry for him all along because I know for particularly a goalie and I played in goals myself that it’s a position you don’t want focus.”

GAA move to end Anthony Nash-type strikes with temporary rule change

Patrick Horgan: ‘If Nash feels like he wants to take the next one, you will let him’

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Fintan O'Toole

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