It was a big weekend for two relatively inexperienced referees at this level of football and one can come away from it happy with his performance.
The other — Anthony Nolan — unfortunately will have regrets about how he handled the Tyrone-Monaghan semi-final yesterday, especially his motioning for a free-in for Monaghan at the end — but then gave it the other way.
There were several occasions when Conor McManus was blatantly fouled but there was one instance in the first half particularly where he had received no free and Tyrone broke up the field and scored a point.
Nolan was right on a couple of high tackle calls and booked Tiernan McCann and Dermot Malone but the yellow card for Ronan McNamee should have been a black card.
A few of the decisions were extremely questionable. He gave a free to Peter Harte in the first half for little or nothing while Darren Hughes was later denied an obvious free after a long Monaghan kick-out. Unless it was for persistent fouling, I’m not sure why Colin Walshe was booked in the 50th minute. Cavanagh bought a free against McManus late on and there was a free awarded to Harte that was inexplicable just as Monaghan had broken and had an overlap.
Nolan still has time on his side and hopefully he will learn some valuable lessons from this outing
Barry Cassidy, though, had a fine game the evening before. He gave great advantage to Dean Rock early on but could have then given him a penalty in the subsequent passage of play. In the end, he gave a free-in for the initial infringement.
The only other free in the first half he missed was when Jack McCaffrey was pushed out over the end-line. But he was spot on for the charge by James McCarthy and got the penalty call right too as Johnny Cooper was pushing Damien Comer.
In the second half, Philly McMahon wasn’t punished for a third man tackle and a free in should have been given to Galway instead of a free out. John Small was booked correctly as was Seán Kelly but Brian Howard should also have been in the book for off-the-ball messing. Eoghan Kerin too was correctly yellow carded when making no
attempt to play the ball against Paul Mannion.
It’s a semi-final debut Cassidy can be satisfied with and it sets him up well for next year. David Gough would be my favourite for the final. Where he works shouldn’t matter. He is a Meath man earning a living in Dublin but it shouldn’t come into the equation.
There has been plenty of fallout from James McGrath’s emotional statement during the week. I do feel he was the victim of an injustice. The word is that the powers that be weren’t happy with his handling of the Limerick-Kilkenny All-Ireland quarter-final and there could have been a sending off in an off-the-ball incident while a couple of frees might have been awarded to Kilkenny. But as margins of error go, he was within what everyone was doing this summer.
Fergal Horgan was below par last weekend and yet he is awarded with the stand-by referee position for Sunday. Then again, making Diarmuid Kirwan stand-by referee for the minor final in his last year as an inter-county referee was hardly rewarding of his services.
As for how James handled it, he could have done a better job of it but in my mind he made the right decision. He did everything by the book this year and had performed well. He hadn’t refereed a final in itself but was good enough to do two replays.
When you look at the Austin Gleeson fallout last year, it’s an amazing turnaround for James Owens but he’s capable of a solid final and I wish him best of luck. With two big, physical teams, it’s a game that’ll take a bit of refereeing.
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