KILKENNY CAMOGIE STAR Grace Walsh believes that “a change needs to be made” to make the games more free-flowing and says that the last two All-Ireland finals “probably looked like crap” for supporters.

Kilkenny and Tullaroan star Grace Walsh at the launch of the Beko Club Bua programme 2019.

Source: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

The playing rules have repeatedly come under scrutiny since last year’s decider between Cork and Kilkenny, with several high profile players calling for change to allow for greater physicality in matches.

And now Walsh, who lined out at corner-back in that defeat to Cork last September, is adding her voice to the chorus.

Naturally, the Tullaroan defender was concentrating on the game, but she was also aware that it wasn’t a great spectacle for the crowd.

“Maybe not as much the league final, but the last two All-Ireland finals were just a game of frees, [they were] low-scoring and probably looked like crap from the sideline to be honest.”

Walsh was ruled out of this year’s Division 1 final against Galway with an ankle injury. From her view on the sideline, she could see that the fluidity of the game had improved from the All-Ireland final.

And yet, she also believes that there are further strides to be taken to eliminate the stop-start nature of games in camogie.

She feels that the games could be even more exciting and the Camogie Association are giving inter-county players and managers an opportunity to voice those concerns through a ‘Feedback Forum’ at the Croke Park Hotel tomorrow.

And it comes at a fitting time with results of a Women’s Gaelic Players Association (WGPA) survey – published on Wednesday — showing that 82% of players are in favour of trialling new rules. 70% stated the rules on physical contact very much need a change. 

“The league final this year looked a little bit more free-flowing but it still wasn’t as free-flowing as it should be,” says Walsh.

“It was nearly boring from watching it on the sideline.

“I think it’s nearly up to the Camogie Association to learn from what they have seen online afterwards that a change needs to be made. The games need to be more free-flowing.

“What I watched in the league final, that’s not the team that I know. That’s not the way that camogie can be played because it can be so exciting and the girls are so skillful. It’s just that those skills are not shown the days of the big games.

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Battling against Amy O’Connor in last year’s All-Ireland final.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“It might not be the referee’s fault, there might be somebody on their back and is getting them to blow [for] more frees. But I think it’s nearly up to them to learn from it.

“There were a lot of frees in the All-Ireland final, but I probably didn’t notice because I was playing and I was just focused on the game. But then I noticed it from watching on the sideline against Galway and it wasn’t as exciting as it could be.” 

Kilkenny were aiming to complete the four-in-a-row in that league final, but the Tribeswomen edged out the reigning champions by two points in the end.

Reflecting on the game, Walsh concedes that Galway were simply the better side after establishing a six-point lead at half-time.

She would have loved the opportunity to help her team-mates in Croke Park that day, but adds that Ann Downey’s side will draw positives from the performance that they channel into their championship campaign later in the summer.

“I could have been there to help the girls by even just talking to them on the pitch. It’s just disappointing. We didn’t perform as a team and Galway were just class. Maybe it was just that Galway didn’t allow us to perform.

“It was hard but it was good at the same time to be able to see on the sideline, what changes could have been made. But it’s in the past now and we just have to keep looking forward.”

Grace Walsh was speaking at the launch of the Beko Club Bua programme 2019, the quality mark for Leinster GAA clubs.

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