Saturday provided another example of how a referee can be riding high for so long in a game only to be brought crashing down to earth by a split-second decision.
Colm Lyons was having a great game, really contributing to a fantastic show of hurling in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and then came that penalty decision. It was a huge mistake, he might have thought there was a hurl put across Austin Gleeson but none of the replays have indicated that.
You could see that call threw him off for the next couple of minutes. He didn’t give one or two obvious frees but should he be punished for one error even if it was a big one? I don’t think so.
It was an otherwise excellent performance and there has been talk he didn’t give much to Waterford and Gleeson possibly took too many steps prior to the penalty, but a large reason why that game was so good was Colm Lyons.
Later on Saturday, James Owens made his first refereeing appearance since the Clare-Tipperary Munster semi-final and it was good to see him deliver a fine performance. There was a lot of pressure on him going into it, he had been dragged through social media and the like after the Aidan McCarthy decision but he showed what he’s capable of in Thurles.
The appointments for this weekend’s semi-finals will be made in the next day or two. Now that Tipperary are out, Fergal Horgan is an option, although Colm and Johnny Murphy will be out of the reckoning for their own counties’ matches. Paud O’Dwyer and John Keenan could also be in the frame.
It was interesting to see Seán Finn speak last week of how Limerick won’t get away again with their acts of indiscipline in the Munster final. Limerick are massively strong and have more physical players than most and they have been fortunate but then other teams have too. I get the feeling Seán was sent out to give a message that Limerick will be on their best behaviour from here on in.
It must be said again that the style of refereeing this summer couldn’t be more different to that in the league. You might as well be comparing two different sports such was the amount of whistling done at the start of the season, but at least things have been rectified.
Saturday’s Ulster football final was refereed masterfully by David Gough, who is officiating with such confidence now that he makes it look easy. He was rightly strict on the high tackles and a number of players went into the book for them.
Having said that, he let it be known from early on that frees had to be won and while he was going to be fair, he would allow the exchanges to be tough. He played some great advantage at times too, like for a Conor McCarthy point in the first half.
While some people in Croke Park believe he’s a little outspoken and has too much of a profile for a referee, David delivers when he is the man in the middle and he is sure to take charge of one of the remaining three games.
Yesterday’s Leinster final was Martin McNally’s biggest game to date and he did well. There were some calls that would have made people frown but things like whistling Daniel Flynn back to take a mark after he tried to play a quick one were correct decisions.
He should have given Flynn a free when the score was 0-12 to 0-7 and from the ball being turned over Niall Scully scored a mark at the other end.
As for the disallowed goal, Martin was right to whistle Colm Basquel for steps, a foul he punished on a number of occasions throughout.