Officials punishing underdogs, blasts furious Evans

TIPPERARY manager John Evans has launched an astonishing attack on GAA officials, accusing them of favouring traditional big football counties in matches against the perceived lesser lights.

Evans was irate following Saturday’s NFL Division Two defeat to Donegal and insisted his players are being unfairly punished by the experimental rules.

Evans also said Tipperary will struggle to get the benefit of any 50-50 calls when the Premier County visit Armagh for a crucial clash on Sunday. And he predicted the home crowd will sway refereeing decisions when Tipperary visit Tralee tomorrow week (March 31) for the Cadbury Munster U21 football final against Kerry.

Evans fumed: “I can now say, quite categorically, from the last three games (against Down, Meath and Donegal) that this hand pass (rule) is a bloody joke. The sooner they get rid of it, the better – not once were the opposition pulled for it. Not once were Meath pulled for it, not once were Down pulled for it. We’ve been pulled 18 or 19 times in the three games. No matter what statistics you look at, the underdogs get nailed with these things.”

He continued: “Every time we play Cork, Kerry, Meath, Down or Donegal, these established powers, it’s always the technical frees that officialdom are laying on us. When you’re the underdog, it’s very difficult to make a breakthrough. You’re pulled for technicalities. We’re in an U21 Munster final and you can rest assured that the crowd will have an influence on the referee. They’ll have all the support with them. We’re hurting because all the calls are given against the underdog.”

Tipperary collected three points from two matches against Down and Meath before losing out to Donegal last weekend. But Evans believes that his team’s task is made much harder because of inconsistent refereeing and the influence of supporters.

The Kerry native added: “The crowd in Newry were calling free after free. The same happened out there again Saturday night (against Donegal).

“I’ll go back to the U21 Munster final last year. We played Cork; referees melting through the floorboards. Go through the statistics from that game again – it was hand passes, short frees, not being 14 yards away. We had the same thing again tonight. It’s twice as difficult being an underdog and trying to establish yourself.

“We’ll go up to Armagh and we’ll try to compete with them but you can rest assured, we won’t get anything. It’s a case of placate the crowd, the big dog, the team on top.

“When Kerry come up here on May 16 (Munster SFC), officialdom will placate the big dog. That annoys me more than anything. I have to speak out or else we’ll be trodden on. Please don’t trod on this team – this is a good team, a team that’s worked hard. Somebody has to speak up for them. The stats are quite clear – we’ve had passes called against us and none against Donegal, Down and Meath. You have to stand up at some stage and say look, this isn’t good enough. Tipperary are going into an U21 final against seven, eight or 10,000 in Tralee on Wednesday week and the referee will go with the crowd. Before we kick a ball, we’re up against it.

“When we play Kerry in championship and when we go to Armagh next Sunday, we won’t get the call because we don’t have the following, nobody’s going to stand up for us.”

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