Shane Elliott

Shane Elliott: Hurling scoring is not an issue

IT HAS always been a commonly held belief that two points is a very dangerous lead in hurling. In the modern game, it is becoming increasingly apparent that any lead is dangerous and there is no such thing as being in a comfortable position.

We are regularly witnessing 10-point gaps being overturned, indeed Galway went close to coming back from 16 points down against Waterford well into the second half at the weekend.

The speed of scoring in the game now is off the scale with scores every couple of minutes being the norm. It took Limerick 10 minutes to overturn a 10-point half-time deficit against Tipperary in one of the best exhibitions of the game I have ever seen. They were simply awesome as they steam-rolled Tipp into submission with power, pace and incredible skill levels.


Readers of this column will be well aware of my admiration for the great Kilkenny teams of the Cody era and I can see many similarities with this Limerick team. They are extremely physical, play the game right on the edge and are sprinkled with star dust with talents like Cian Lynch and Kyle Hayes, in the same way that Kilkenny had players of the calibre of Henry Shefflin and JJ Delaney.

They are seriously capable of going on to win six or more All-Irelands with this current side and in current form it is hard to see who will stop them this year.

What championship games across all levels have shown us is that talk earlier in the year about the demise of the game due to the tippy-tappy possession type games we were seeing in the National League was wide of the mark.

Games have been hugely entertaining and have ebbed and flowed from end to end with quality score after quality score. Some are now arguing that the ball is too light and there are too many scores in the game but I don’t really buy that. We want to be entertained and the high-scoring titanic struggles we have witnessed to date are great to watch so I can’t think why we would want to change that.

The games have also proved beyond any doubt that the difference between league and championship is like day and night emphasising the old adage of “the league is for learning and the championship is for winning.”

Top teams have a great ability to raise their levels in the heat of championship, being able to move up the gears and peak when it matters. Unfortunately for Antrim that shift from league to championship proved to be difficult and will certainly be something Darren Gleeson will be looking at with a view to addressing next year.

At the weekend both Derry and Tyrone struggled to impose themselves in the Christy Ring and Nicky Rackard finals against Offaly and Mayo respectively. To be fair I don’t think their performances were anything to do with peaking at the right time, they simply came up against better teams who are a year or two ahead of them in their development.

Offaly amassed an incredible 41 points in a formidable display which suggests they will be genuine contenders for Joe McDonagh honours.

Mayo were clearly a team on a mission following defeat in the Rackard final to Donegal last year and Michael McShane will be looking for a similar reaction from his squad going into next year. Dominic McKinley and Cormac Donnelly on the other hand will take some consolation from the fact that Offaly have now left the Christy Ring stage and they will be serious contenders for honours in the competition next year.

The pain of defeat in a final can sometimes be a great motivator for a team and both management teams will be hoping to tap into that.

Thankfully there was some good news for an Ulster side at the weekend with Joe Baldwin’s Fermanagh side succeeding in the Lory Meagher final over Ollie Bellew’s Cavan outfit.

Massive congratulations to both teams who produced a very entertaining encounter and continued the theme of high scoring I alluded to earlier with Fermanagh racking up an impressive 3-26 to Cavan’s 1-17. To do that in Croke Park is no mean feat and is continued proof of the improving level of the game at all levels.

Whilst the challenges of Covid continues and the health of the nation remains a key focus I think it is fair to say the health of the game of hurling is in good shape. So I hope the powers that be resist the urge to change things.

The tiered structures are by and large a success although this year’s finals in the lower tier competitions would suggest that anomalies remain. However the high scoring rate in hurling can quickly turn a well-contested game into what seems like a one-sided affair.

On the other hand, it can also mean that regardless of the score difference there is always the chance of a comeback as we have seen many times.

So for what it is worth I think they need to leave the ball alone and adopt the approach that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

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