MATTIE KENNY AND Liam Cahill had no complaints after yesterday’s Allianz Hurling League clash between Dublin and Waterford that saw 18 cards handed out, including two reds and blacks.
The thrilling draw in Parnell Park wasn’t a particularly bad-tempered affair, although several scuffles did break out and Antrim whistler Colm Cunning was quick to punish those involved.
He set the tone in the first-half when he booked six players, three from either side, for altercations. In the second period Cian O’Callaghan (black and a yellow) and Conor Prunty (two yellows) were sent-off late on.
Neither Kenny nor Cahill felt it was the sort of game that warranted so many cards, but they stopped short of criticising the referee.
“I was very surprised by that,” said Cahill of the card count. “It’s February hurling and the league is going to be more condensed this year, more than ever with the short run into championship.
“Everybody is trying to get as much as they can out of it. Difficult day to hurl but also a difficult day to referee as well to be fair. A very difficult day to referee with the intensity that was in the game.
“That was a hard-hitting game. It mightn’t have been an all-out skilful game but it was definitely very physical. There was a lot of big hits going on and a lot of well-conditioned men on the field.”
Kenny admitted “didn’t think it was” a niggly game that deserved so many cards.
He continued, “There was a lot of rucks in it. You had both sides very committed. When the ball was getting stuck in the pitch like that, a lot of guys are going to get in around it. They’re using their strength and weight.
“There were a few yellow cards handed out. There was nothing nasty in the game. It was just too very competitive sides going hard at it. Fair play to both sets of players.”
The black card has been introduced to hurling for the 2022 season for the denial of a goalscoring opportunity inside the 20m line or the D with a penalty also awarded. A sin-binning could previously be applied with a yellow card, but the black card has come into play this season.
A further amendment will be voted at Congress this month which proposed that fouls less than 25m infield of each sideline “as a ‘rule of thumb” would not count as a goalscoring opportunity.
Waterford were the beneficiaries of the ruling on two occasions, as Cian O’Callaghan took down Colin Dunford with a heavy hit as he bore down on goal.
It was exactly the reason the rule was brought in, and Stephen Bennett duly dispatched the penalty. O’Callaghan was sent to the sideline for ten minutes.
Dublin goalkeeper Sean Brennan also spent ten minutes in the sin-bin. Again, it was deserved after he took down Jack Prendergast who would have scored had he not been denied fouled by the Sky Blues netminder.
Kenny was pleased with how Dublin reacted to bing down to 14 men for over 20 minutes.
“A lot went on in that game we suffered two black cards and red cards in the finish. We had the wind in the fist half so we’d have liked to build up a bigger lead than we had.
“When they got the first penalty it gave them some momentum or stopped our momentum. We had to fight for that back in the first-half.
“We took a four point lead into half-time. Probably not enough in these conditions but our lads showed massive character in the second-half. When things seemed to be going against them they stayed in the game, keeping coming up the field against wind and got some vital scores which got us a draw in the end. It was a fair result for both sides.”
In the fourth year of Kenny’s reign, the Sky Blues have made an unbeaten start to the season after winning the Walsh Cup.
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“I felt myself in the Walsh Cup, I thought the standard and speed of hurling was higher than normal. Usually the Walsh Cup is very slow and lads are trying to find their feet.
“The weather in January was really good and the quality and speed of hurling was really high. That came into the league today as well. Even though the conditions were tough it was really competitive. I thought the standard was pretty high for the conditions on the pitch.”
Daire Gray was a late cry-off from the team after tweaking his hamstring in the warm-up, while Cian O’Sullivan, Cian Boland, Mark Schutte, Shane Barrett and Liam Rushe are also out injured.
Cahill said Jamie Barron and Tadhg de Burca are carrying muscle strains and are unlikely to return for Waterford’s home tie against Laois next weekend.
“The most pleasing aspect for me is the continuous fight and resolve of these players to improve every day and to never take a step back,” Cahill said.
:Today it was a game that could have gone away from them and they stayed fighting until the end. That’s the main ingredient for me every day they go out. I know there was to be more to it than that and there will be but you can’t have the rest unless you have that.
“We have Fitzgibbon Cup were we have to see how fellas come out of that on Tuesday. So a lot of that, bit of managing involve but looking forward to the next couple of matches in the league.”