Jackie Tyrrell believes John Kiely is "100% right" after the Limerick hurling manager questioned how referees are interpreting tackles in the Allianz League.
Speaking following the All-Ireland champions' first defeat since 2019 yesterday away to Galway, Kiely wondered if "someone has decided to take the tackle out of the game".
And speaking on RTÉ’s Allianz League Sunday, former Kilkenny star Tyrrell echoed the sentiments of the Limerick boss and expressed concern for the game which he says is turning into a free-taking shootout.
"John Kiely is 100% right," he said.
"I would be deeply, deeply concerned for the game of hurling, where it’s going, the trends that have developed over the last two weekends.
"We always see this at the stage of the leagues, referees are whistle-happy.
"Looking over the broad spectrum of games, the volume of frees, the stop-start nature of frees in Westmeath and Waterford, there was 36 in Galway and Limerick.
"We are seeing glorified free-taking competitions. [Dublin’s] Donal Burke: 15 points from frees, [Galway’s] Evan Niland: 14 points, [Tipp’s] Jason Forde: double digits.
"Are we going down the route of non-contact in hurling?
"Because the physicality, which is key to the game of hurling and what attracts us to it, is what we love, is being pushed further and further out of it.
"The free-flowing electricity that oozes through important games [is gone]."
The sin bin, water breaks and additional substitutes have all been introduced recently into the game but Tyrrell, a nine-time All-Ireland winner, says there are more serious issues at hand.
With much controversy around the interpretation of rules, former Limerick player Niall Moran has called for greater communication with referees, particularly post-match in explaining why decisions were made. @GameOn2FM #RTEGAA pic.twitter.com/LhnXZzmOcz— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) May 17, 2021
"The GAA are looking at things, yeah they are important but not as important as honing and minding the physicality," he said.
"They are looking at things like water breaks. I see water breaks, there’s not much water being drank.
"There’s discussions, there’s conversations, there are tactics boards out.
"This sin bin, I’m all on for it. To my mind, in Division 1A and B there have been three so far over two weekends but yet the important things that are staring us in the face, what I call 'cotton wool frees’.
"Matthew O’Hanlon [Wexford] got sent off today, it was arguably maybe a free.
"There are lads brushing off each other, I don’t know if the referees have been told [to blow up more]."
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