Summer certainly hasn’t started temperature-wise but from a refereeing perspective it did yesterday. The games in Cavan and Kilkenny swung the Championship into life.
The bigger the games, the better was my mantra as a referee and here were the two biggest of the Championship so far.
In Nowlan Park, Colm Lyons was doing fine until the game was in the melting pot when he was under serious pressure and seemed to lose control at times. That being said, Paul Murphy was correctly yellow-carded a first time and a second time for persistent fouling. The John Hanbury red card was a borderline one but the fact there was no ball there probably sealed the Galway defender’s fate.
Had the sliotar been in the vicinity, Lyons would have likely given him the benefit of the doubt. Colm had a good view of it so I don’t know why he had to consult with linesman Cathal McAllister. It wasn’t as if he was blindsided and if you want your authority to be respected you have to make those calls.
Ger Aylward was shown the line then for a yellow card when he reacted after the deliberate trip by Aidan Harte.
However, showing soft yellow cards to Cathal Mannion and Paddy Deegan suggested he was panicking because they weren’t bookable offences.
David Burke was fortunate when he was swung back as that free was given to TJ Reid.
Johnny Coen was booked but Burke could have been in trouble. The serious delay following that free being awarded and the confusion that followed should have meant Lyons played at least another minute of additional time on top of the four he had already allocated. In fairness, he did allow good advantage for Conor Whelan’s goal earlier but the time-keeping was questionable.
When a referee nails a tough game like that it puts them in a good position going into the rest of the Championship but the finale for Colm won’t have done his chances of picking up bigger games later in the year any favours.
Yesterday’s Munster SHC game brought a huge atmosphere to Limerick and James Owens denied Tony Kelly a blatant free just before half-time.
In the second half, Clare had more reason to feel indignant as they were not given three obvious frees and when that was followed by Aaron Gillane being awarded one at the other end they had real cause to be irritated.
The margin in the end meant it all added up to little, though. Darragh O’Donovan’s yellow card for a wild pull was the right decision as was the one for Seán Finn, who, while really tigerish, was persistently fouling.
In Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday evening, John Keenan set out his stall with two early yellow cards for Bill Cooper and Brian O’Halloran.
Shane Bennett was definitely playing on the edge but just about deserved to remain on the pitch. Robert Downey was correctly penalised for cynical use of the hurley although Shane McNulty should have been shown a yellow card later on for a blatant foul on Shane Kingston.
Credit to John and his umpires, they collaborated well in allowing Waterford’s second goal. Keenan had signalled for a penalty before Shane Bennett found the net but there was good teamwork to give a fair outcome to the Waterford forward.
Arguably the biggest talking point of the weekend came in Cavan on Saturday where David Gough was refereeing the Donegal-Tyrone Ulster semi-final. David was good overall, he was right to black-card Peter Harte early on for his foul on Ryan McHugh, and I would have to defend him in not having seeing the Tiernan McCann incident with Stephen McMenamin.
Unless you’re actually at ground level, you’re highly unlikely as a referee ever to see anything like that and it’s something you have to be certain in getting right given the gravity of the situation.
In a way, it was probably lucky he didn’t make a call on the matter because it paves the way for the Central Competitions Control Committee to punish McCann in the form of a retrospective ban.
What he did to McMenamin was not alone unacceptable, it was dangerous and must not be tolerated.