Hurling in January! Would the GAA get a grip?

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Hurling in January! Would the GAA get a grip?

Postby Plain of the Herbs » Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:50 pm

Apparently inter-county hurling resumes on Sunday. That’s Sunday the 11th January. That the GAA at national (and provincial) level is organising hurling at this time of year is simply outrageous.

The football might have started last Sunday, and those whose preference is football can feel free to comment on that. But that the hurling starts a week later gives me the impression that the powers-that-be see hurling as football with sticks, that is not affected by adverse winter weather. I recall the hurling writer Kevin Cashman using the phrase “Gaelic Football Athletic Association”. Cashman also frequently complained about schoolchildren being forced to study in the hurling weather and hurl in the swotting weather.

No-one should be hurling at this time of year. To be played effectively requires some semblance of good underfoot conditions. Now it could be argued that Ireland’s temperate climate isn’t really conducive to hurling at all, though in fairness the seven months of summer time each year generally are. Hurling in January and February, the ground is sticky, the ball plugs, and even if it does move it moves much slower. Hands are cold and fetching the ball is almost impossible. Different game.

It’s tough on emerging hurlers who are given their chance to ‘impress’ in January. The hurler who prospers in January is generally bigger, stronger but slower and one who will not necessarily perform well when championship comes. Thoroughbred horses who will race on the Flat in summertime are not raced in National Hunt conditions – so why are summertime hurlers trialed in the muck?

The thing is, we don’t need to play hurling in January anyway. Time enough to start the League in mid-March, abolish the league quarter-finals and semi-finals and the Final can still be played on the first Sunday in May. The league quarter-finals and semi-finals are superfluous anyway, shur who targets winning the league?

The media aren’t going to highlight this issue – many know little about hurling and think it’s football with sticks, and anyway having hurling all year round gives them something to write about. But most hurling supporters know the futility of hurling in winter and will stay away until the ground hardens. Instead we will hear calls of alarm at low attendances and urgings to ‘market the league’. Nothing like not recognising the cause of a problem.

The lads who will line out on Sunday have my sympathy and my good wishes. And maybe next year the GAA will see some sense.
Pat Donegan. Signed out of respect for players and all involved with Offaly.
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Re: Hurling in January! Would the GAA get a grip?

Postby townman » Fri Jan 09, 2015 12:57 am

doesn't stop Codys kilkenny winning the walsh cup most years, and in fairness offaly don't get to hurl many games theses times maybe 2 in the summer thats it, Walsh cup like the o'byrne cup is all about fitness and the gate goes to injuried players fund. agree its hard for young light skilfull players to impress in muck up fields but the weather has not been to bad this winter, and the auld pitch in mullingar was in good nick a few weeks ago for the k/k club semil final.

anyway looking forward as some are for a new start in 2015 and theses games bring supporters out after the christmas and away from her in doors and to see how any new players to hurl senior get on, so get your hat and coat POTH and all roads lead to mullingar on sunday its 1994 since we won the Walsh cup again kilkenny in tullamore and do you also remember Sid broke his leg in the first round game that year again laois in Borris/Ossary we went on to win the all ireland later that year to :wink:
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Re: Hurling in January! Would the GAA get a grip?

Postby Bord na Mona man » Fri Jan 09, 2015 10:38 am

Get a grip! Would that be a masking tape grip or a towel grip for January hurling?
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Re: Hurling in January! Would the GAA get a grip?

Postby Slieve Bloom Man » Sat Jan 10, 2015 10:53 pm

Plain of the Herbs wrote:Apparently inter-county hurling resumes on Sunday. That’s Sunday the 11th January. That the GAA at national (and provincial) level is organising hurling at this time of year is simply outrageous.

The football might have started last Sunday, and those whose preference is football can feel free to comment on that. But that the hurling starts a week later gives me the impression that the powers-that-be see hurling as football with sticks, that is not affected by adverse winter weather. I recall the hurling writer Kevin Cashman using the phrase “Gaelic Football Athletic Association”. Cashman also frequently complained about schoolchildren being forced to study in the hurling weather and hurl in the swotting weather.

No-one should be hurling at this time of year. To be played effectively requires some semblance of good underfoot conditions. Now it could be argued that Ireland’s temperate climate isn’t really conducive to hurling at all, though in fairness the seven months of summer time each year generally are. Hurling in January and February, the ground is sticky, the ball plugs, and even if it does move it moves much slower. Hands are cold and fetching the ball is almost impossible. Different game.

It’s tough on emerging hurlers who are given their chance to ‘impress’ in January. The hurler who prospers in January is generally bigger, stronger but slower and one who will not necessarily perform well when championship comes. Thoroughbred horses who will race on the Flat in summertime are not raced in National Hunt conditions – so why are summertime hurlers trialed in the muck?

The thing is, we don’t need to play hurling in January anyway. Time enough to start the League in mid-March, abolish the league quarter-finals and semi-finals and the Final can still be played on the first Sunday in May. The league quarter-finals and semi-finals are superfluous anyway, shur who targets winning the league?

The media aren’t going to highlight this issue – many know little about hurling and think it’s football with sticks, and anyway having hurling all year round gives them something to write about. But most hurling supporters know the futility of hurling in winter and will stay away until the ground hardens. Instead we will hear calls of alarm at low attendances and urgings to ‘market the league’. Nothing like not recognising the cause of a problem.

The lads who will line out on Sunday have my sympathy and my good wishes. And maybe next year the GAA will see some sense.
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Re: Hurling in January! Would the GAA get a grip?

Postby Slieve Bloom Man » Sat Jan 10, 2015 10:54 pm

I actually don't think it is actually that bad organising Walsh Cup and Waterford Crystal games in January.

Pitches and facilities are better now than they were years ago. So underfoot conditions are improving with time. A surface like Croke Park could be played on at any time of the year and if you compare Premier league pitches nowadays compared to 30 years ago there is an incredible difference. Of course I know hurling doesn't have the money to have every county surface like Croke Park or a premier league ground. However pitches have improved and will continue to do so. After all counties will train and play practice matches against eachother in January and February anyway - better the games are fixed and run by the GAA.

Players also have better gear such as body warmers etc and improved knowledge about importance of good warm-ups. Our weather obviously varies a great deal - some weekends in Jan, Feb & March are mild and it is easy enough to play matches in. Obviously there are other times when it's stormy and there are downpours - games shouldn't be played in those conditions. So I would argue the GAA should work away and fix these games in January but need to be willing to call these games off when the weather and/or pitch are a danger to the safety of players. We all aware of the example of a sliotar getting stuck in a hole in a mucky wet field and the danger of lads breaking legs etc in such conditions. For example there was a game between Cork and Waterford in the league 2 years ago when the game should def have been called off but it wasn't. Don't think anyone was injured but it was risky for players to play in such conditions.


I do agree that it is unfair that emerging players are trialed and often dismissed all in the month of January - which regularly happens. Managers and even fans need to be more patient with emerging players whom do need to be given opportunities on the quick dry sod.

As DJ Carey argues in his book the early months of the year are also a bit of a leveler for teams. For example a team like Antrim can hope to compete with a Kilkenny in the Walsh Cup in January/February - they were over the moon when they defeated Kilkenny a few years ago - can give a bit of confidence to a team like that. Remember Dublin defeated Kilkenny in a Walsh Cup Final in early 2011 and there were huge celebrations in Parnell Park that day . It was an important stepping stone for Dublin.


Now it could be argued that Ireland’s temperate climate isn’t really conducive to hurling at all, though in fairness the seven months of summer time each year generally are. Hurling in January and February, the ground is sticky, the ball plugs, and even if it does move it moves much slower. Hands are cold and fetching the ball is almost impossible. Different game.


I believe Ireland's temperate climate is actually more conducive to hurling than many other countries. Take France, Spain. Potugal, States and Australia - the grass in these countries is often coarse and hard- there would need to be huge costs spent on developing decent hurling pitches. Also summer temperatures in these countries would be too hot for hurling so would be playing in 2 separate seasons of spring and autumn.

While I've made many arguments against you here Plain - you do have very valid points. Hurling is a different game in winter compared to summer. There are games played when player safety is at risk and this wrong but I believe the more hurling games we have the better. There is already too much training to games ratio.
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Re: Hurling in January! Would the GAA get a grip?

Postby Offalys Future » Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:58 pm

Plain of the Herbs wrote:The league quarter-finals and semi-finals are superfluous anyway, shur who targets winning the league?


Are you joking? Who targets winning the league?

Answer: Kilkenny
In the past 10 Years:
KK have won 7 All-Irelands
KK have won 8 Leinster SHC
KK have won 6 Walsh Cup's
KK have won 6 National Hurling Leagues (and been finalist on two others)

Have you listened to anything Brian Cody has said or written in the past 10 years. Everything Kilkenny have achieved is based on a solid National Hurling league campaign and doing everything in their power to win it.
Not alone this but the financial rewards for reaching the league final are massive for counties. Kilkenny county board have received close to (if not over) a million euro over the past 10 years based on their league results.
Even though it was the Div 2 league a few years back Offaly county board received a substantial amount of money for winning the league.

For a county like Offaly the league is vital. You cant just arrive to championship in May/June and July and expect to turn on performances. Offaly need to start producing consistence performances in the league and hope to build on this for the championships. That's what Offaly have been doing the past 10 years, one possibly good performance in the championship but no consistency.
Last year Offaly had 5 games in the league group stage and won 1 and drew 1.
The aim should be to get to the league final this year and win it.

I honestly believe that if Offaly won two league games this year and avoided relegation that would be a success. I don't expect them to win two league games though. Time will tell!
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Re: Hurling in January! Would the GAA get a grip?

Postby townman » Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:09 am

even in Codys book he wrote it might be only the walsh cup but he or his players weren't going to see the cup in the front of the Galway bus as they pull out of Freshford after winning the walsh cup.
as for Walsh cup or leagues don't matter i wish someone would tell Cody and his teams that, they don't seem to find it superfluous as POTH put it.
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Re: Hurling in January! Would the GAA get a grip?

Postby Lone Shark » Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:06 pm

I won't speak for POTH, he's more than capable of doing that for himself, however there is a difference between pointing out that Kilkenny won a load of league titles and saying that they "targeted" the league. Brian Cody has been in the happy position of having always had a solid core group of proven, experienced hurlers, while at the same time bringing three or four new guys into the setup (at least) every year. When you start from a high base and you also have a good underage system, that will happen. In that environment, if Brian Cody is targeting the Liam McCarthy Cup (which we can all agree that he's doing) then it would be entirely logical to say that he wants his team to move at a high cruising speed, to reinforce the idea that they are a very hard team to beat, and to give his key men plenty of hurling. He can afford to do this because the squad depth he has means that if four or five guys get injured, he has decent replacements available.

As a result Kilkenny end up winning the league quite frequently, but that doesn't mean that they "target" it - it means that they want to hurl at a high level all the time. Our historical experience here in Offaly is different - admittedly drawn from a time when the league was not as well organised or as significant as it is now - and we were in a very different situation, with maybe a dozen really excellent hurlers and then four or five more who were well able to hold their own - and then feck all else.

Equally, when Offaly teams were at their peak, defeats in non-championship games were never seen as disasters at all. Plenty of teams picked up league points and Walsh Cup wins at the expense of good Offaly sides, and the players were amazingly adept at shaking it off and coming back without a bother on them. Kilkenny teams under Cody have a different attitude - they want to create an impression of being unstoppable, of having the ability (and the inclination!) to blow you out of the water just because they can. I would imagine that trying to sell that mindset to some of the Offaly hurlers of the 80's and 90's might have been a tough gig and could have backfired.

The game is very different now. In the 1990s, the standard of club hurling was only a notch or too below that of county hurling. Things are very different now, an ordinary county team would still expect to beat Portumna, Ballyhale or Kilcormac by a decent margin in the height of summer. That's why the league is far more important - it's the closest thing out there to championship hurling, with the exception of Fitzgibbon Cup, and as I've pointed out previously to my great concern, Offaly seem to have little or no presence in Fitz/Sigerson these days. So I agree that we need to focus a lot more on the league now, whether we like it or not.


However as for the whole "hurling in January" point, I couldn't agree more. It's a daft time to judge any hurler and while Slieve Bloom Man is correct in that county managers would go ahead and organise games anyway, I certainly wouldn't feel any great need to get to Tullamore to watch the county side in action at this time of year, because I don't feel like I'll learn much by doing so.
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Re: Hurling in January! Would the GAA get a grip?

Postby Offalys Future » Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:31 pm

While you can't judge hurling skill in January you can judge allot of other things:
Pride in Jersey
Heart
Desire
Hunger
Determination
Fitness
Attitude
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Re: Hurling in January! Would the GAA get a grip?

Postby Lone Shark » Wed Jan 21, 2015 5:05 am

Offalys Future wrote:While you can't judge hurling skill in January you can judge allot of other things:
Pride in Jersey
Heart
Desire
Hunger
Determination
Fitness
Attitude


Oddly enough, I would argue that most of these things are probably better judged on the training field than in a Walsh Cup environment. Essentially what you've listed there is one physical attribute (fitness) and five words that are all essentially different ways of saying the same thing. Fitness can be measured far better off the field, since I don't think even the most wealthy counties have gotten around to having their players wear heart rate monitors and satellite tracking devices yet, as happens in top level professional sport.

As for the intangible quality, we'll run with heart since you listed that first (I'm guessing by that you didn't mean the actual cardiac muscle performance), well then I find a lot of these January games can be quite deceptive, simply because you don't know where your opponents are at. James O'Donoghue was a relative unknown in the world of Gaelic Football this time last year until he burst into our sights with his performance in Croke Park against the Dubs in the league, and someone marking him in the McGrath Cup might have got chastened by the manager for being taken apart by a young lad. In contrast Ross Munnelly is a proven footballer of real quality, yet he didn't try a yard in the O'Byrne cup a few weeks ago, so Paul McConway looked like a hero against him. I will stress here that I don't blame Paul for that, he could only play his own game, but Munnelly was utterly disinterested and that made things much easier than they might have been.
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Re: Hurling in January! Would the GAA get a grip?

Postby Offalys Future » Sun Jan 25, 2015 10:11 pm

Lone Shark wrote:
Offalys Future wrote:While you can't judge hurling skill in January you can judge allot of other things:
Pride in Jersey
Heart
Desire
Hunger
Determination
Fitness
Attitude


Oddly enough, I would argue that most of these things are probably better judged on the training field than in a Walsh Cup environment. Essentially what you've listed there is one physical attribute (fitness) and five words that are all essentially different ways of saying the same thing. Fitness can be measured far better off the field, since I don't think even the most wealthy counties have gotten around to having their players wear heart rate monitors and satellite tracking devices yet, as happens in top level professional sport.

As for the intangible quality, we'll run with heart since you listed that first (I'm guessing by that you didn't mean the actual cardiac muscle performance), well then I find a lot of these January games can be quite deceptive, simply because you don't know where your opponents are at. James O'Donoghue was a relative unknown in the world of Gaelic Football this time last year until he burst into our sights with his performance in Croke Park against the Dubs in the league, and someone marking him in the McGrath Cup might have got chastened by the manager for being taken apart by a young lad. In contrast Ross Munnelly is a proven footballer of real quality, yet he didn't try a yard in the O'Byrne cup a few weeks ago, so Paul McConway looked like a hero against him. I will stress here that I don't blame Paul for that, he could only play his own game, but Munnelly was utterly disinterested and that made things much easier than they might have been.


I disagree the best place you judge a player is on the hurling field. Recent studies in GAA have shown that and also a team management well organised have the ability to measure fitness on the pitch. This is done by breaking the game in 4 quarters and measuring certain aspects of each players play and then making a judgement based on the stats. Studies have been completed on this in both Gaelic football and hurling you should check them out.

Desire - a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.
Hunger - to have or cause to have a need or craving
Heart - spirit, courage, or enthusiasm:
Determination - a fixed purpose or intention:
Attitude - the way a person views something or tends to behave towards it, often in an evaluative way

all the above in my opinion and equally as important and the manager prepares his team to show these characteristics.

Regarding James o Donoghue, you do know that he scored 2-3 in the all-Ireland semi final in 2013 vs Dublin? He won an all-star in 2013. and any half decent manager that is looking at opposition players would know that he was a serious threat.
Regarding Laois player - Maybe that's part of the recent that Laois have underachieved over the past 5 years. Players not giving the necessary respect to their county jersey and not having the required desire/hunger/heart/determination and attitude!.
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