Gavin Dalton speaks to Fintan O’ Connor in relation to the incoming yellow sliotar rule for the approaching intercounty championships.
Kerry’s Senior Hurling boss Fintan O’ Connor feels the introduction of yellow sliotars is just another new feature to this year’s championship that intercounty squads will learn to adapt to.
The GAA’s announcement on Friday last week regarding the introduction of yellow sliotars for the forthcoming intercounty championship is one that has left many in the hurling world rather bemused. Stars Joe Canning and Brendan Maher have been outspoken in recent days, highlighting their confusion at what has been seen as a somewhat rash decision by many.
Although aware it will be a shock to many who are so used to the traditional white sliotar, speaking to The City Dublin, O’Connor believes it will be a positive change in the long run.
“In fairness to the players, it can be hard to readjust to new changes at first,” O’Connor said. “I heard Joe Canning saying he’s been using a white sliotar for 28 odd years, and to suddenly become accustomed to a yellow sliotar in just two weeks is certainly challenging.
“In saying that, it’s just the look is going to be different. I’m presuming the weight will be the same, so I don’t think there’ll be any major problems with the change once the players become more familiar with it. It’ll probably be a change for the better. They’ll be able to chip the ball and tell it’s speed and make it easier for hawkeye to access whether it’s a score or not, so all these factors will come as a positive going forward.”
With substantially less preparation time for squads prior to the approaching championship than in years gone by, when asked if the timing of the of the alternative sliotar introduction was right or whether it had been implemented hastily, O’Connor added: “ Perhaps you could say it’s been a bit rushed, but I think the whole thing has been a bit rushed so I feel sorry for those involved from that point of view.
“Everything has been a bit crammed into a couple of weeks, and maybe the introduction of yellow sliotars may have been rolled out over a couple months had the GAA had time to do that, so I suppose they just wanted to get it out there for 2020. Due to the nature of the championship this year, maybe they’ve been left with no choice.”
With preparations for Sunday’s Allianz League Division 2A Final against Antrim underway for O‘Connor and his team, the Blackwater Community School man is aware of the stress involved with the changes his players and intercounty squads nationwide have had to become accustomed to— the yellow sliotar just another on a list of alterations.
“From the GAA player’s point of view, I suppose the lads are in such a different environment to where they were last year getting ready for the championship,” O’Connor explained. “It’s very difficult for them coming to training and not being able to sit down and have their meal after and travelling alone in cars for example – it’s probably a stressful enough time for all intercounty hurlers at the minute. As Brendan Maher was saying about the sliotar change, it’s hard this year anyway with all the things going on to have another thing thrown at you.
“But at the end of the day whether it’s a yellow or white sliotar, all panels, coaches and managers, like they’ve been doing with all the protocols, will just get on with it.”