RYAN O’Dwyer has shed blood and required many a stitch in wounds incurred on playing pitches, but he is not in favour of officialdom clamping down on hurling referees.
Tipperary native O’Dwyer (27), who joined the Dublin hurling squad just over two years ago, calls for sensible, but light-touch regulation of the exchanges in top-level hurling.
The issue came into focus at the recent National Hurling League final between Tipperary and Kilkenny when Lar Corbett and JJ Delaney got their marching orders following an off-the-ball tussle.
Later, it emerged that Corbett had suffered a rib injury either just before or during the clash with Delaney, but he wasn’t interested in taking the matter beyond the parameters of the pitch.
And that’s the way it should be, says O’Dwyer (pictured).
“I think if common sense could be used, it’s far better than any rule book. I believe you should let it go as much as you can, but, of course, you have to protect the players.
“At the end of the day, it’s a physical game. There is a fine line. I don’t know why anyone would become a ref. It’s a horrible job.
“When I’m on the pitch, I probably give out about them, but I feel sorry for refs, but, at the same time, nobody will go out to do a lad.
“I reckon you should give the player the benefit of the doubt, within reason. Nowadays, they’re going more by the rule book and I think that’s coming from the referees’ assessor more than anything.”
Coming from a player who has seen a red card or two in his time, that’s a fair endorsement of the ‘let ’em at it’ approach.
More important to O’Dwyer, though, is getting himself mentally and physically right for the Dubs’ Leinster championship opener against Wexford at Wexford Park.
O’Dwyer is champing at the bit after taking months to recover from shoulder surgery in late 2012.
“There are no problems now. It’s just about getting my touch and fitness up to speed, but as far as I’m concerned, the shoulder’s a thing of the past.”
The Kilmacud Crokes clubman came back in the league match against Carlow on March 31. All eager for action before the game, he soon realised that his match fitness for inter-county level needed to be tuned up.
“After two minutes of the Carlow game, I was flat out, I was shattered. It’s totally different,” says O’Dwyer.
He came on at half-time in the Division 1B final against Limerick, before getting 50 minutes in the crushing league semi-final 4-20 to 0-17 defeat to Tipperary.
It wasn’t a game to remember with any great fondness, but it brought a reality check that might not bode well for Wexford.
Ideally, the Slaneysiders would want the Dubs romping into town full of delusions of grandeur, but Tipp left the boys in blue digesting a large helping of humble pie.
“We’re not going to make excuses… We could dwell on it. We take it that we got beaten, but we move on and we build on it and see where we can progress, where we can make ourselves better,” O’Dwyer says.
And what of Wexford? It’s not so long ago that a win over the Model county was a watermark in Dublin hurling history.
Now the tables have turned and Dublin, despite their disappointing 2012 campaign, are further along in their development than Wexford.
“There was a bit of hype around last year and I suppose we bought into it as well. We thought we were better than we were.”
He adds: “After we won Division 1B, our sole focus has been on Wexford in the championship. No matter what anyone outside the camp says, we know that we can’t afford to look any further than that match.”
Irish Independent 7-6-13