Sin bin challenge, hurling v rugby in Limerick and All-Ireland glory with a difference

LIMERICK’S ALL-STAR winning defender Sean Finn believes hurling referees face a tough challenge in enforcing the new sin-bule rule as the league is set to commence this weekend.

The new rule is aiming to tackle specific cynical fouls when goal scoring opportunities are stopped within the 20-metre line or the arc. A penalty is awarded along with the offending player being shown a yellow card and spending time in the sin bin.

Finn’s manager John Kiely has expressed his concerns about the complexity of the rule.

“From what I understand, it’s going to be quite hard to manage from a referee’s perspective,” says Finn.

“A lot of forwards can actually play for a free and drop the head and in one sense could be coached to win frees. That can be difficult as a defender to avoid that because you can be sucked into it unintentionally. 

“It’ll be a difficult one but I must actually bring it up and discuss it.

“It might be worth having a discussion with the couple of defenders we have at the moment just to see their approach around it and to be cognisant of it and just to know the rules. 

“We’ll have to see how it goes in the league. It’ll certainly be a hot topic of conversation over the next couple of months.”

Finn has been central to a hugely successful time in Limerick hurling, the rise of the sport coinciding with a slide in the fortunes of Munster rugby.

The Limerick staff and players celebrate with the Liam MacCarthy Cup as All-Ireland champions.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

He feels the two sports can co-exist successfully.

“That (debate) would never really have happened if Limerick weren’t successful over the last couple of years. When teams are successful, of course young people will want to be involved in that and look it’s great for Gaelic games in Limerick. They are great under-age academy structures in Limerick at county and club level.

“Limerick is still a great sporting county and there are still a lot of people looking to play rugby in the city and soccer as well with Treaty United starting up again. 

“I follow the rugby and I enjoy watching the rugby. I can see both being successful alongside each other. It’s just a matter of putting the structures in place. Like, that was 10 years in the making from when we were U14 so it does take time and it takes the right people being involved.”

His second All-Ireland winning experience was vastly different from his first. Last December in an empty Croke Park and the strange aftermath was in sharp contrast to the joyous mayhem that ensued after their 2018 breakthrough.

“You hardly even heard or spoke about the All-Ireland final three weeks later because you weren’t meeting anyone, only your family,” says Finn.

“They were sick of talking about it. In one sense it was good because it doesn’t even feel like you had won it, so you were coming in this year now and you are kind of fresh.

Gearoid Hegarty and Sean Finn celebrate winning the All-Ireland hurling final.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“In 2018 there was three or four months of kind of going to schools, going to clubs, going to different occasions with the cup, or even just going as a guest.

“That can be tiring as well. That can take its toll on players as well when they are being pulled and dragged. There was none of that this year.

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“I was lucky now, in the last two weeks, one night I got the cup down to my house. So we had a nice night there with the three or four cups and my family. So that was nice.

“That was a real highlight and one that was really low-key in comparison to 2018.

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“It was chalk and cheese in terms of celebrations, 2018 and 2020.”

He feels refreshed ahead of the new season, having relocated to the west coast of Clare for a few months during lockdown. 

“I spent a bit of time back in Doonbeg. My girlfriend has a house back there so spent three or four months back there, spent a lot of time in the sea swimming well away from a hurley and a sliotar. It was a nice break.

“I’m working with PwC, doing exams, studying at the moment. I was kept quite busy with work.

“I didn’t pick up a hurley for quite a long time, even until the beginning of April. I did very little exercise. I just found a break from the whole training regime was as beneficial as actually going out training myself

“I’m looking forward to going back rather than having laboured the last couple of months.”

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The long-awaited return of inter-county hurling takes place on May 8th with the commencement of the Allianz Hurling Leagues. Over 70 games will take place across the four divisions in an action packed seven-week festival of hurling. This campaign also marks the 29th year of Allianz’ partnership with the GAA as sponsor of the Allianz Leagues, making it one of the longest-running sponsorships in Irish sport. 

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