In this ref storm, Cleere very much man in the middle

BRIAN GAVIN: In this ref storm, Cleere very much man in the middle
Referee Sean Cleere warms-up with linesmen Colm Lyons and Johnny Murphy ahead of the All-Ireland SHC semi-final between Wexford and Tipperary at Croke Park yesterday. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

There’s no value in told-you-so’s and there’s no satisfaction in them either but what happened yesterday was in the offing.

Seán Cleere, in my opinion, should not have been appointed to take charge of this All-Ireland semi-final. Firstly - I don’t think he had done enough to be given the job and then with Kilkenny in the other semi-final the day before it only added to the pressure on him.

A lot of what he did wrong yesterday could have been avoided. The long free from Lee Chin could have been disallowed for a square ball in the first place, before Brian Hogan brought it down from over the bar or across it as HawkEye deemed it had.

As Tipperary moved the ball downfield, Kevin Foley should have received a yellow card for a tackle around the neck and this would have slowed down proceedings.

As a result, not only would Tipperary not have been able to take a quick free and score that disallowed goal but he would have received the information from HawkEye so that the ball would have been brought back for a puckout.

Instead, the free was taken and John McGrath scored a goal. Seán clearly didn’t hear the news from the booth in time because of the noise, there was a time gap of well over 30 seconds. It might have been the right decision but how it was delivered left a lot to be desired.

John McGrath’s red card could also have been avoided because just before it Seamie Callanan had committed a blatant foul and it should have been punished. McGrath was lucky to receive just a second yellow card for that swipe.

As far as I’m concerned, it was a square ball for Wexford’s third goal - Conor McDonald was in the area when Paul Morris put the ball across.

And as for the third disallowed goal, the last thing it should have been was called back for a 20 metre free when Callanan was fouled in the parallelogram. That Callanan was given no advantage was poor refereeing and Jake Morris’ goal was also ruled out.

Three goals that weren’t goals for Tipperary and had it mattered Seán would not have been to popular in the county. Seán didn’t look comfortable or confident enough to be the man in the middle and Kilkenny beating Limerick did him no favours, really.

You certainly couldn’t question Seán’s integrity but he shouldn’t have been put in this position in the first place.

Seán also missed three around-the-neck tackles, which we’ve been told all year are bookable offences. His and to an extent Alan Kelly’s performance reinforces my belief that the standards of hurling refereeing are not where they should be.

There are better referees out there but they’re not getting the games and it’s hard to see them staying around when they’re not getting them.

And what has happened over the weekend is only adding to the clamour for second referees and video assistants.

Fergal Horgan is one of the better referees but obviously what he’s doing is not what Croke Park want otherwise he would be appointed to matches. I’m not talking about this weekend’s semi-finals but quarter-finals or provincial finals.

Some might disagree with me but take out that 65 call at the end and the penalty decision and Saturday was actually one of Alan’s best matches. The gloss was taken off by that 65 call although his linesman let him down.

The umpires were perfectly positioned but the linesman should have been behind Darragh O’Donovan to judge the flight of the ball.

Had Huw Lawlor not put his hands around Aaron Gillane a second time, Alan might not have awarded the penalty. It was a tough call on Kilkenny and you see so much of it not punished and then it comes down to a question of consistency.

Otherwise, Alan got calls right like Seán Finn’s yellow card for fouling TJ Reid and Gearóid Hegarty and Cillian Buckley entering the book for fouls.

There was good advantage shown for three or four scores and he tried to let the game flow. HawkEye was used a lot over the weekend and all of the calls were justified going by how close the sliotar got to the posts.

Who referees the final now is anyone’s guess although it wouldn’t be surprising if James Owens is given the nod for a second year in a row.

John Keenan and Paud O’Dwyer could be considered too.

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