David Gough has outlined why timekeeping isn't a major concern for referees, explaining that reclassifying foul play is a much greater priority.
There was controversy about the amount of added time in three of the four Division 1 games this weekend, with Monaghan, Meath, and Galway feeling particularly aggrieved. Donegal also hotly disputed the time added on in their round 1 draw with Mayo.
Suggestions have been made to take timekeeping duties away from referees, such as introducing a ladies football-style hooter system. Gough sees the merit in such an idea but believes it may not be feasible in all GAA grounds around Ireland.
Gough instead defended the timekeeping system available to referees and explained why Ciarán Branagan was correct to add an extra three minutes to the six already played as Dublin snatched a late draw against Monaghan on Saturday.
"Ciarán was completely correct to add the three minutes on at the end of the additional time," Gough told RTÉ's 2fm's Game On.
"Just to explain to people how this works, Croke Park have given referees new high-grade watches with three interfaces. The first interface is set for the time length of the match, the second interface starts at zero, and the third interface works for additional time.
"When I press the button to start, the watch vibrates to let me know the game has begun, 35 counts down to zero, zero starts to count up, and the additional time hasn't moved yet.
"When I see an incident of serious injury or blood injury, when I'm engaging with Hawk-Eye in relation with a score, if there's a substitute happening, if I'm dealing with a melee, or if I'm consulting with umpires, I press a button on my watch.
"The watch immediately starts to continuously vibrate and the counter, the third interface, counts up the additional time. It keeps vibrating to remind me to knock it off. When I've dealt with all the situations, it could be a goalkeeper coming up to take a free-kick, I press the button again and the interface stops counting.
"Close to 34 minutes, the fourth official will say to me, 'David, how much additional time?'
"Inside that five minutes, if there's further delays we will add that on at the discretion of the referee. It's never shared with anyone else in the stadium but the referee will have it on his watch.
"I don't think the issue is as big as people are making it out to be."
— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) February 11, 2020
Gough instead prioritises a review of the categories of foul play, which place an undue burden on referees. He handed out 16 cards during Monaghan's win over Tyrone last Sunday week, many brought to his attention by other officials.
"That's a huge volume of information to have to remember and recall on any given day, and also to know what happens as a result of it. Is it a free and a note? A free and a yellow? A free and a black? A free and a red? Is it a hop ball? Am I cancelling a decision and turning the ball the other direction?
"We'd like to see the GAA moving to a much simpler classification of foul play, where we would have dangerous or reckless play as a red card, we'd have cynical play as a black card, and we'd have rough or disruptive play as a yellow card."
Gough added that referees are spending hundreds of euro out of their own pocket on communications systems to talk to their umpires and linesmen, due to the unreliability of most GAA venues' radio systems.
Gough also raised Ciarán Whelan branding Fergal Kelly's decision to award a second yellow card to Kerry captain David Clifford, after consultation with his umpires, as a terrible decision on RTÉ.
"The scrutiny by TV pundits and analysts has raised and we saw that with Ciarán Whelan's comments this weekend. What I'd like to say about that is we still don't know whether something else happened off the ball prior to that clip. It's a very short clip.
"We have no idea whether David Clifford was involved in an incident prior to that and we had to wait until there was a break in play until that was brought to Fergal Kelly's attention or whether he was involved in something directly before that clip started.
"It was very unfortunate that Fergal and his umpire were subjected to such negative scrutiny.
"We do have to remember that they're both volunteers and umpires get very little apart from a meal post-match. And that's it."
Football Show: The double yellow cop-out. Sin bin quirks. Protecting defenders too. Cork 2010 memories