Referee David Gough has told Kerry supporters that he didn’t have clear sight of Kevin McManamon’s challenge on Peter Crowley in the closing stages of last year’s All-Ireland semi-final, writes John Fogarty.
The Meath official admits he would have punished McManamon for the foul on the Kerry defender had he not been blindsided. Instead, the ball was transferred towards the other end of the field and Diarmuid Connolly, who had initially gone to check on Crowley’s well-being, sent over a point that sealed the win for Dublin.
Gough was showered with match programmes and plastic bottles from irate Kerry fans in the Cusack Stand afterwards. He revealed it was the most testing experience he has had as a referee.
“It was because I wasn’t expecting it,” he told LMFM in an interview on Sunday.
“What people didn’t realise at the time was I didn’t know I had missed what I had missed. I don’t know how many times I have watched it back since.
“I know I got it wrong. I didn’t get it wrong on purpose, I just didn’t see it.
“Michael Fitzsimons, the Dublin corner-back, had come on that day and he had just crossed my line of vision.
“I knew an impact had happened and the ball spilled. I didn’t know whether it was a proper charge or not, but I couldn’t call it because I didn’t see it.
“Unfortunately, as Peter Crowley was getting up off the ground, the man he was marking, Diarmuid Connolly, was putting that insurance point over the bar and I could understand why Kerry people would be quite frustrated but what I would like them to realise is I just didn’t see it.
“It was a very testing situation and walking off the field after 76 minutes of what I thought was a great game of football why this was happening.”
After Maurice Deegan acknowledged he should have black carded John Small in the All-Ireland final replay, Gough is the second match officialto admit he should have punished a Dublin player but didn’t.
Gough on Sunday proposed the idea of the referees’ match manager being allowed to put forward the match official’s perspective after games.
He believes the prescriptive nature of the black card has made life more difficult for referees as well as the mark.
On the black card, he stated: “Definitely, more difficult. More difficult in that there are five different rules covered for a black card offence and the education of the general public and the players has not been to the same level as it has been to the referees.
“They’re very prescriptive and it’s not really left up to the judgement of the referee. Now we’re getting into the referee trying to play God.
“How can a referee decide whether a player deliberately tried to trip his opponent or whether he accidentally tried to trip him.
“That’s only one of them (rules) – there are three that have the word ‘deliberate’ in them – and it makes our job really difficult.
“Of course, the players now know this because as soon as the foul is committed he’ll turn around and say. ‘That was accidental, I didn’t mean it’.
“And they’re putting that seed of doubt straight away into your mind. We know they’re being trained to do it. We have to remove ourselves from the situation and look at it on its own.”
On the mark, Gough commented: “The mark was the one that really annoyed me recently because they’ve introduced and I’m not sure who they consulted on it but they certainly didn’t consult any of the elite referees and it has huge implications for us on positioning, on kick-outs, on a huge range of fall-out from what can happen if a mark is taken.
“The timing around it and it frustrates an awful lot of players.
“Generally, referees were awarding frees ‘to protect the high fielder’ was the language that was being used at the time, and there was no need to formalise that arrangement and introduce five or six different scenarios then of a player catching a ball.
“It’s just got totally confusing and there was no need to bring in that whole range of rules around that.”
Gough also recalled the GAA in 2015 turning down his request to wear a rainbow wristband in support of a yes vote in the marriage referendum.
“The media fallout from it was huge and uncontrollable from my point of view.”
The GAA explained he wouldn’t be permitted to wear it on the field because it was a political gesture but Gough said he found that explanation “rich” given the GAA’s political nature and history.