We all know the biggest bugbear about GAA officiating is inconsistency and there was a classic case of it in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday. For the same infringement, Anthony Nolan made three different calls.
Jack Barry should have been booked for a late tackle on Ian Maguire but wasn’t. Brian Hurley then picked up a yellow card for the same challenge on Stephen O’Brien. But to make matters worse Paul Geaney did the same thing and was shown a black card.
Now, Geaney would still have been shown to the line anyway for picking up a second yellow after earlier getting involved with James Loughrey, but that Anthony chose not to treat all three incidents the same is infuriating.
The correct decision for all three was a yellow card — Barry might then have walked later after he was shown a yellow for wrestling with Killian O’Hanlon off the ball — but Anthony was inconsistent and so confusion reigned.
I can also understand if some Cork supporters were angered by some of his calls. Mark Collins caught a ball in the penalty area in the first half and was brought down, which anywhere else on the field would have resulted in a free. He should have been awarded a penalty.
There were also turning points later on in the game where Cork could be aggrieved with the whistle. With the game in the melting pot, Luke Connolly was blown for a free out when he should have been awarded one in. I couldn’t see where the foul was on David Clifford for Kerry to go four points up and the indecision for the Stephen O’Brien shot that was eventually deemed a point was awful. To make matters worse, the umpire’s positioning was good and he shouldn’t have had to rely on anyone else to make the call.
Aside from that, O’Brien and Kevin Flahive did merit yellow cards, as did Paul Kerrigan for a foul on Micheál Burns, although Burns was lucky not to be picked up when he made contact with Ruairí Deane. Anthony showed good advantage for an O’Brien point but after doing well in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final between Tyrone and Monaghan and the league this was a step back for him.
The same could not be said for Conor Lane who had a fantastic Ulster final in Clones. He showed six yellow cards and all were right, from Neil McGee’s, which was picked up by an umpire, to Michael Murphy clobbering the Cavan goalkeeper, to Stephen McMenamin’s for a push off the ball. Conor could be very happy with his afternoon’s work and he is definitely in the top two or three football referees in the country at the moment.
Seán Hurson could be pleased to a lesser degree with his first Leinster final. There wasn’t a huge amount for him to handle but he was right not to award Meath an early penalty.
Shane McEntee should have been booked for grabbing Paul Mannion by the neck. Instead, Seán showed James McEntee one for trying to pick up Mannion from the ground, which was the right decision.
Donal Keogan escaped a yellow before he was eventually and rightly shown a black towards the end. The penalty call against Conor McGill for fouling Con O’Callaghan was right as were the yellows for Cillian Brennan and Shane Gallagher.
Shane McEntee was at Mannion again in the second half and once more avoided a caution, which was surprising.
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Mike Quirke reviews the GAA weekend with Oisín McConville, Donncha O'Connor and Tony Leen.