Give referees a TV dig-out if it gets the right decisions

At the behest of a reader and a Kilkenny friend of ours, we took another look at Barry Kelly’s decision to overturn a Tipperary 65 last Sunday week. 

Give referees a TV dig-out if it gets the right decisions

You remember the call late on in the All-Ireland semi-final when the referee overruled the initial decision made by his umpire and called it a wide.

“Was just wondering did Barry Kelly and his umpires have help in changing decision to award 65 to Tipp on Sunday?” asked David McGrath in an email. “Almost immediately after the replay is shown on TV, the umpire comes across to assist, puts his hand up to his earpiece and suddenly has a lot to say. Is hawk eye official in contact? Look, might be good for game if this was so but begs question — would decision have changed if not for replay?”

Our Kilkenny pal was of a similar mind but more satisfied the right call had been made. “If Kelly or his umpire did speak to the person in the box who could see the replay, he was right. That decision could have changed the result. If only the minor referee had done the bloody same,” he said, in reference to Colm Lyons’ decision to allow what appeared to be a square ball goal to Galway in the minor semi-final win over Kilkenny.

David’s email was a considered one but when a man from Noreside is praising Kelly, you really sit up and take notice! Reviewing the recording of the game, it appears there may have been some contact with Kelly or the umpire via their earpieces. They could, of course, be in touch with the linesmen but then they all share the same frequency with the GAA’s HawkEye review official in the Hill 16 control booth. For hurling, either referees appointment committee chairman Willie Barrett or former referee Dickie Murphy are usually stationed there.

Kelly may also have been persuaded by Lar Corbett’s gesture of honesty but regardless of what happened, it highlighted the helping hand not officially at referees’ disposal but there nevertheless. Like the two big screens in Croke Park, it’s a case of water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink.

How Pat McEnaney wished he had the authority to have a second look in 2010. In that year’s Down-Kildare All-Ireland semi-final, McEnaney’s last game as an inter-county referee, he only realised he had made a mistake in allowing Benny Coulter’s square ball goal when he saw it on the Hill 16 big screen.

In 2012, Marty Duffy awarded a point to Eoghan O’Gara on the advice of his linesman Maurice Deegan after his umpire had signalled it had gone wide. Deegan, it seemed, had seen that the shot was good in a replay of it on one of the two screens.

GAA director of player welfare and games administration Feargal McGill said at the time: “I haven’t spoken to Marty or Maurice so I don’t know on what basis it was made. But he (Duffy) got the decision right, and that’s what we expect from our referees.”

Getting the decision right. Shouldn’t that be all that matters?

Ironically, it’s both Duffy and Deegan who find themselves in the firing line these last couple of weeks because of wrong calls. Duffy’s verdict of the Darren Hughes-Tiernan McCann situation was so wrong, given it happened a few yards away from him. But amid the hoopla that followed, could a cooler head with the benefit of a replay in the Nally Stand have provided him with some sound advice?

On Sunday, as Colm Cooper lay hurt after Ronan McNamee’s tackle, as Tyrone players approached him after Shane Enright had brought down Peter Harte, what harm would there have been in Deegan asking the HawkEye official to give him a dig out? Could he have asked to have a quick second look at Tyrone’s two penalty claims? The fear about a TV official in GAA is that it would take far too much time but amid all the hoo-ha that followed those incidents what delay would there have been in “going upstairs”?

Last week, 2005 All-Ireland final referee Mick Monahan told this newspaper that the current crop need help starting with a citing board for matters such as diving. “A referee could say a player is feigning but it might be human error on his part.” A second pair of eyes would ruled out the need for such a measure.

The GAA have embraced technology in the form of HawkEye (although Tipperary fans will forever blast it) but showed short-sightedness in ditching the clock/hooter idea. A TV official would face opposition too as obvious as it is that referees are dying on their feet isolated as they are.

If they won’t help referees, they should help themselves. If that means bending the rules, then so be it. Most of the 30 players around them are indulging in such practices anyway only such means are disingenuous. At least the men in black’s own brand of dark arts would justify the end.

Brolly raises heat on RTÉ

Take it for certain that the GAA will be on the blower or have already been in touch with those in Montrose about the conduct of a certain Derry football pundit after his comments following Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final.

Coming in the wake of denigrating Pádraig Hughes following the referee’s decision to award James O’Donoghue a penalty in the drawn Munster final, Joe Brolly’s disparaging comments about Maurice Deegan in turning down Tyrone claims for a late penalty will not sit well at all with Croke Park officials.

It’s well known at this stage that the GAA, in an informal setting, articulated their disappointment with RTÉ about Brolly’s Hughes remarks. However, the latest outburst by Brolly is tantamount to questioning the integrity of Deegan. The GAA couldn’t take that lightly even if they wanted to.

As Aogán Ó Fearghail’s comments in today’s edition make clear, the heat is on the national broadcasters. The question is how much more are they prepared to handle before they are burned.

Gold standards need tweaking

All credit to new, worthwhile initiatives like the GAA’s Golden Boot and Golden Hurl for the top scorers in the football and hurling championships.

However, the criteria may need another look.

Right now, Fermanagh’s Sean Quigley currently leads the football race with the main live challengers being Dublin’s Bernard Brogan and Dean Rock. Quigley has scored a total of 42 points, averaging seven points per each of his six games, yet only 14 points have come from play compared to Brogan whose 5-16 haul has all come from play (and he has played two games less).

His average per game is better than Quigley’s by almost a point per outing.

There’s a similar story in the hurling competition where Zane Keenan leads having played half a dozen games, two more than Maurice Shanahan who has a far superior average per match and in a higher standard of games.

It’s not Brogan or Shanahan’s fault that they’ve played fewer games than Quigley or Keenan but it seems to be held against them.

An average score per game, say with a minimum of four matches played, would be a fairer indicator than simply the highest points total.


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