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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Cusack backs move for standard sliotar

Electric Ireland Minor Star Award ambassador Dónal Óg Cusack. Pic: Sportsfile
Electric Ireland Minor Star Award ambassador Dónal Óg Cusack. Pic: Sportsfile

Donal Óg Cusack has backed moves to deliver a standardised sliotar in hurling from next year - but declined to offer any opinion on the latest 'Sliotargate' saga.

The Munster SHC final fallout has been dominated by the video of an individual attached to the Clare backroom set-up throwing Anthony Nash's bag of sliotars into the crowd.

Clare joint managers Gerry O'Connor and Donal Moloney were quick to issue an apology to Cork ... and Cusack, the former Cork 'keeper and current Clare coach, won't be adding his view on the controversy. "Donal and Gerry have covered that off. I'm not going to go there," he said yesterday.

But as a decorated netminder who has seen every trick in the sliotar-switching book, Cusack had plenty to say on the subject in general.

He agreed that the move towards a standardised sliotar was a good idea - "one hundred per cent" - but it shouldn't stop there.

Harking back to his own playing days, the Leeside legend recalled how you'd puck out one ball only for your rival 'keeper to change ball to his own favoured brand.

"It's like you're calibrated to the ball that you're using - yet the ball that's coming from the other side could be a totally different ball," he said.

"I think we could look at things like putting dimples on the ball to give better traction.

"I think it's a good idea to standardise the ball, but do I think it should stay like that then? No, I think it should evolve. I think the ball should be a luminous colour, for example. I'd imagine even last Sunday, people looking at the ball in the stadium, would find a white ball in that environment hard to keep a track on. Even in terms of your reactions and trying to get kids to play."

Cusask recalled several anecdotes from his own career, the most memorable involving a 2005 Munster final penalty for Tipp's Eoin Kelly.

"We practiced it, that if there was a penalty given, one of us would cause a diversion, give out to the referee, all get around 'bladdy, bladdy blah'. And that another ball, we'd roll it in. The important thing was that it shouldn't be me rolling it into play," he explained.

"I remember looking at Eoin Kelly that day and I says 'That ball is not going to go as hard as you think it's going to go'. Eoin has said it himself since, that even when he picked it up he just sensed that there was something not right with that ball. But that's the game."

For the record, the penalty was saved.

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