‘I’d love for it to be debated more’ – Wexford captain has ‘real worry’ over new cynical play rule

WEXFORD HURLING CAPTAIN Matthew O’Hanlon would have preferred more debate on hurling’s new cynical play rule before it was rubber-stamped at last weekend’s GAA Congress.

And O’Hanlon is worried over how the rule will be implemented at club level.

Last Saturday saw the motion passed which will see a penalty awarded and defending player sin-binned in hurling if they cynically foul to prevent a goalscoring opportunity. The foul must have taken place inside the 20m line or within the D.

2019 Leinster senior winner O’Hanlon, speaking yesterday at the launch of the new Wexford GAA Strategic Plan, is also keen to point out the reasoning behind the large-scale player opposition to the rule.

“Firstly, from a players perspective, we vote via the GPA – over 75% of players didn’t want to see it comes into hurling, specifically.

“But it wasn’t for the aspect that players wanted to promote cynical play. It was more just for clarification about the ruling and how it’s administered across the levels.

“So I guess the fact it’s through now on a trial basis, we’ll get to see if it works. I’d love for it to be debated more, to see the data behind it. Is it because there’s a decrease in goals? Is that what we want to see in the game?

“Or is it just observers watching games, seeing one or two key moments and feeling the need to bring this in? Obviously looking at football and the effect the black card has there.

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An example of the black card rule in football from last year’s All-Ireland final.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“But if it does come in and it leads to a decrease in cynical fouls, then I’m all for it. But my real worry is in the administration of it at club level.

“What is deemed a cynical foul? This is going to impact a lot of results at inter-county and club level. And I just want to make sure the minor detail of the rule is clearly understood by everybody.

“Because to be honest, I think it would be better to be brought in on a trial basis at secondary school level or in competitions like the league or the Walsh Cup.

“But I mean, we’ll have to wait and see how it unfolds.”

“Yeah, speak to any player, a split-season model is welcomed. It just goes to show, when backs are against the wall, change can be made for the right reasons at national level.

“As an inter-county player, all we wanted to know was when we were playing and where we were playing. And now we know. For me, I plan to play hurling and football until I finish up.

“It would be an enabler in terms of planning for club players. A club player now knows at what time the different championships will be prioritised. That will let club players to plan when to peak.

“Whereas before, they were training for two games in April and then stop and then training again when the inter-county team are finished.”

O’Hanlon is pleased to see the split season introduced and is keen to maintain hurling and football commitments for his club St James.

Matthew O’Hanlon (left) in action against Dublin’s Ciaran Kilkenny in the Leinster U21FC in 2012.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Speak to any player, a split-season model is welcomed. It just goes to show, when backs are against the wall, change can be made for the right reasons at national level.

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“As an inter-county player, all we wanted to know was when we were playing and where we were playing. And now we know. For me, I plan to play hurling and football until I finish up.

“It would be an enabler in terms of planning for club players. A club player now knows at what time the different championships will be prioritised. That will let club players to plan when to peak.”

O’Hanlon is hopeful that the new Wexford strategic plan will be a further boost to the county’s fortunes with plans to upgrade facilities at the county’s stadium in Wexford Park, their centre of excellence in Ferns and a 4G pitch in the county.

A view of Chadwicks Wexford Park.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“In order to compete at the top of the inter-county game, players have to have access to top quality facilities. I guess I’ve been playing inter-county senior since 2011. In that period of time, we didn’t have a centre of excellence. We were waiting on a text to know which club pitch we were going training at. Not everybody has access to gyms.

“In Ferns at the moment, we have a top quality base, in terms of everything we need for strength and conditioning. As well as the expertise in the backrooms, which is absolutely vital to compete. There is plans in place to improve that further. And I think that is needed.”

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