GAA National Hurling Development Manager Martin Fogarty says systematic fouling is ruining the game .
As the debate around the health and officiating of hurling continues, Fogarty laments how coaching practices of 'how to foul' have entered the game in recent years.
"Like everyone else, I hate to see games becoming shootouts between the opposing free-takers," he wrote in a piece for GAA.ie
"I also do not like too many stoppages in a game, I like to see games flow. I have always said that if a player is not interfering with an opponent, do not blow the whistle. If there is a hand on a back that is not a push or a little tug of a jersey that a player does not even feel, then let play proceed. A clash of hurls should not immediately result in a whistle unless it is a chop down or wild swipe."
Fogarty said that while referees were taking a hammering for stopping the games too much and awarding too many frees, the buck stops with the players.
"There is however a far better and simple solution to the problem of too many frees and games becoming sharpshooter shootouts. Stop fouling!
"Players stop fouling, coaches and managers coach the players how "not to foul" instead of "how to foul" which is a practice that has crept into hurling in recent years and is abominable.
"I for one am happy to see the referees, at last, blowing the above fouls. They are all not just fouls, they are blatant fouls and are ruining the game. The sad and worrying thing is that these practices are being coached into players."
Fogarty describes talk of the game moving away from traditional values as "nonsense".
"People speak about the ‘old days’ and the great manly battles that took place. They speak about physicality being watered down now. That is all nonsense.
"The rules were more or less the same twenty years ago. Holding was holding, chopping was chopping and shouldering a lad into the chest or head were all frees then as they are now.
"The big difference a few years ago was that fouling was not coached into players. They fouled or didn’t foul of their own accord.
"It amuses or irritates me, I am not sure which, to hear people complain about the frees and the stoppages but when their own teams and players are getting fouled, they are dancing and jumping, raising hands to heaven, and shouting all sorts to the referee. It is like, it is ok for my team to pull and drag, hold and slap, but when these things are done to my players then it is not ok."