It’s hard to know what to |make of the current situation concerning the physicality of hurling, in particular the old-fashioned horsing matches that Kilkenny and Tipperary have become.
At the Kilkenny press night, Brian Cody presented the GAA media with an alternative viewpoint to Donal Óg Cusack's |enlightened column on gaa.ie when he stated that skilfull players were not being protected by referees anymore.
He cited the wild pull on Michael Rice in the All-Ireland semi; it left Rice with a crushed knuckle, more than seven fractures and a plate that was inserted to pull all the pieces of his knuckle back together. Not only will Rice miss the All-Ireland final, but he will be gone from club hurling too for the rest of the season.
By absolving Kilkenny of all blame, he has heaped pressure on referee Barry Kelly, who will be in the middle for the final between the Cats and Galway.
They played a Leinster final that was tough but clean. Galway stuffed Kilkenny, so the natural temptation is always to stay competitive by going hard at their opponents.
Cody may feel his team is being maligned, but this kind of softening up of referees is unfair.
Kilkenny are guilty of foul play the same as any other team – just witness Richie Hogan's red card against Limerick for proof.
Hurling does not need officious refereeing, it just needs the rules to be implemented. It will be interesting to see Kelly's approach in the final.