A top inter-county player has lashed out at the GAA’s decision to make helmets compulsory in all hurling matches next season as Waterford star Eoin Kelly accused the association of treating players “like children.”
Kelly made the comments during the Vodafone all-stars trip to Argentina last weekend when the 2009 and 2008 teams played out a draw in an exhibition game in Buenos Aires.
“They treat us like kids,” blasted Kelly. “Next year, it’ll be ‘Get your mammy to put on your helmet for you before you go out and play.’ or something stupid like you can’t wear studded boots.
“That’s the way it’s going. Every year it’s something different. They do it for the National League and then they scrap it and go back to normal.
“There are games that fellas are training for six or seven months, and the game could be changed on a ball given wide or something like that -- they’re the issues that should be improved on.
“We could have lost an All-Ireland quarterfinal against Galway last year over it. Lucky enough, we didn’t but we could have it, only a point in it at the end.
“It wasn’t anyone’s fault, the game is so fast, but they’re the things you should change, not childish things like ‘You have to wear a helmet, and be in school for two o’clock.’ That’s the way it’s gone.”
Kelly is not a fan of helmets and is critical of the new rule which comes into effect in January.
He added, “It’s going to be hard. The GAA should really look at fellows over 25 who have not worn a helmet for 10 or 15 years.
“I don’t know if it is driven by insurance companies or what, but it is going to be wicked hard on Dan Shanahan, Ken McGrath and fellas like that -- they have not worn a helmet in 20 years. I have not worn once since I was 11 or 12.
“As John Mullane said, it’s grand putting it on in the winter, but when you’re going out on a sunny day it is going to be hard. It’s like being stuck in a small room. It’s very claustrophobic.”