Tuesday 15 October 2019

Penalties not harsh enough

Tipp selector Ryan admits 'it's safer to foul'

Patrick Maher, Tipperary, is taken down by Paul Murphy, Kilkenny
Patrick Maher, Tipperary, is taken down by Paul Murphy, Kilkenny

IT'S probably natural enough to harbour some sample of regret if you draw an All-Ireland final after missing two penalties.

Particularly so if it's an epic and more to the point, against Kilkenny.

Neither Seamus Callanan nor 'Bubbles' O'Dwyer hit their penalties with the full scope of their available gusto on Sunday but then, both strikes were easily saved.

"The implication is that it is nearly safer to foul. That is not right, that is not the spirit or the intent of a penalty," reflected Tipperary selector Michael Ryan in the cold light of day at the team's hotel in Ballsbridge.

"The intent of a penalty is not that it should be a better option for the backs to pull down a player who is bearing down on goal.

"I don't know what they are going to do but it has changed everything.

"We weren't entirely happy with what was known as the "Nash penalty" because that was border-line. You can take out border-line, that was dangerous stuff.

"Now we need to find a middle ground but that is not for today. And, yeah, we got nothing, we got zero out of two penalties."

"The other side of it was, were they goal chances?" Ryan added.

"Were 'Bonner' Maher and Lar going to get a strike off? The boys were right on them. We'll never know the answer to that. We just need to be careful here that the scales have tipped, the advantage has gone away from the forward.

"We need to be careful with it. I think the GAA will react to it but it won't have reacted by three weeks time. The rules are the rules. They're the same for both sides.

"Isn't it funny, we tried to correct what was an anomaly earlier on this year and we've probably made it slightly worse. But if that's all that's wrong with hurling, there's very little wrong.


"I think it being still in its infancy, we've had to get used to it (the strike behind the line). That being a strict line and you can't cross it.

"Maybe we should be more concentrated on making sure the strike is a yard behind. Maybe it's mindset. We've got to change our mindset.

"Three guys sitting on the goal line and the ball having to be struck outside the 20-metre line . . . if you're to unleash your greatest shot, you can't be thinking of where your left foot is or where you'll strike the ball. The advantage isn't quite equal in my opinion."

Similarly, there is a theory doing the rounds that had Hawkeye not been present in Croke Park, Tipperary would be All-Ireland Champions, that O'Dwyer's free was so close to being over, the umpire would, without the aid of such definitive technology, adjudged it so.

"These are the if's and buts but the game is better for Hawkeye," Ryan stresses.

"It settles these debates. I'd hate to have the Liam MacCarthy here and a whole debate about. It was the last strike of the game, it would be a huge talking point.

"It wasn't conclusive. It didn't go over the centre of the bar where you'd be happy and of course it was so high as well. You really don't get time.

"I just happened to be crossing the field when the free was given. It was all square and I suppose I had a feeling of relief plus opportunity.

"Relief this doesn't decide whether we come back here the next day. On the negative, it was all about opportunity. We had a chance, it was a wild chance."

This is territory charted by the All-Ireland finalists in each of the past two seasons but an entirely new experience for Tipperary.

While Kilkenny pointed their bus for home on Sunday, Tipp had a semi-banquet in order to appease supporters and family.


Presumably, holidays have been cancelled and work plans altered (although despite what was being reported yesterday, Eoin Larkin's wedding is not pencilled in for the date of the replay).

And when the euphoria of Sunday's incredible spectacle dissipates, there will no doubt be a touch of the anticlimax for Tipperary and Kilkenny this week.

"I did not envisage a draw but I am damn glad to get it," Ryan admitted.

"We were four points down with as many left or thereabouts as you know. We live to fight another day and we are very happy with that.

"It is highly strange. I have never been involved in a draw at such a high level.

"It was a little surreal so I can only imagine what it was like for the players in both camps as well.

"You come here for an outcome, now it is a better outcome than a negative one."

Three weeks is surely too long to wait though?

"My initial feeling is yeah, I would love to have been sorting this out next week," Ryan agreed.

"But I fully understand the nightmare for the GAA.

"And having said that, we have a lot of tired bodies and three weeks won't do nay harm in terms of getting our guys back to full fitness and full freshness."

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