Refs must back off and let us play the game: Dubs star
Dublin wing-back Michael Carton, the 'Friends of Dublin Hurling' Player of the Year as they swept to the Leinster title last term, has called for a level of discretion to be employed by referees.
Speaking at the launch of the 2014 Allianz Leagues in Belfast yesterday, the 29-year-old fireman from the O'Toole's club said: "In last year's Championship there were probably three high-profile sending-offs. And I don't think there really was a dirty stroke pulled.
"Refs should be given more leniency because I don't think there was a dirty stroke pulled and it had a huge influence on three games in the Championship."
He was referring to Cork's Pa Horgan's dismissal in the Munster final against Limerick and Henry Shefflin's two yellow cards against Cork in the All-Ireland quarter-final, but the one that directly affected him was Ryan O'Dwyer's two yellows against the Rebels in the All-Ireland semi-final.
"It was a big, big moment in the game and I don't think it was anything near a red card, the same with Pa Cronin, he had his eyes on the ball," he reflects now.
"I think with that sort of thing refs should be given a bit of leniency. Of course they are following their rule book that says a strike is a strike but ... "
The whole area of awarding cards in hurling was brought into sharp focus with Eddie Keher's suggestion that hurling does not need either red or yellow cards.
Brian Cody has added further momentum to the argument by publicly supporting Keher, commenting: "There is absolutely an over emphasis on cards, without a shadow of a doubt.
"I don't want to start getting into a whole rigmarole again but it can't become a non-contact sport and there's an absolute emphasis on heading that direction."
On such a radical departure of discipline guidelines, Carton offered a third way, saying: "I do think refs should be given a bit more leniency, they should use their initiative instead of a rulebook sometimes in a game, because it has a huge outcome in a game for lads training all year."
Carton does not feel there is as concerted an effort to make the game non-contact as Cody claims, but feels there is a self-regulation to the type of contact hurlers are willing to inflict upon each other.
"It's extremely physical but there is a really high discipline level there as well. It can be a physical game but nobody is going out to purposefully hurt someone. Especially with a strike.
"Hurlers accept they are going to get a belt in a game, that's just the nature of the game," he said.
Dublin meet Galway in their league opener in Pearse Stadium on Sunday.
* ANTRIM defender Kevin O'Boyle will miss the rest of the Division Four league campaign after suffering a broken ankle.
O'Boyle sustained the injury during the Saffrons' defeat to Wicklow on Sunday.
Liam Bradley was without five or six regulars during their opening two Allianz League defeats to Leitrim and Wicklow, and although Kevin Niblock, Conor Murray, Sean McVeigh and Ricky Johnston are ready to return, O'Boyle's absence is a major blow to their promotion hopes.
Antrim do not play Fermanagh in the Ulster Championship until June 1, which should give the Cargin defender time to recover for the Brewster Park clash.
Ulster boss Joe Kernan had included O'Boyle in his squad for Sunday's inter-provincial semi-final against Leinster in Navan.
"He has broken a bone in his ankle, which is very hard luck on the lad," he said.