The decisions made by Alan Kelly and his umpires will live long in their memories as they will anyone who saw them award Tipperary a second goal at the Gaelic Grounds.
Dare it be said but it’s a moment that could, unfairly as it might seem, define Kelly’s career. How Alan didn’t give square ball for Jake Morris being in the parallelogram in the first place was the initial problem.
The second problem was obviously the better-placed umpire not nodding to his colleague at the far post with the green flag that Austin Gleeson had actually caught the ball before it crossed the goal-line.
It turned out to be a disastrous situation for all three men as it led to the changing of the game. There was a breakdown in protocol and, if Alan looks back on the last couple of years, maybe he will feel there have been other times when he’s been let down by his assistants.
How Alan is going to deal with this will be difficult. I’d hope Croke Park will lend support because he’ll be feeling as rotten as the Waterford players.
You could see it had impacted on him in the last seven or eight minutes as he lost control of the game and avoided frees that were there to be given and gave a couple that he shouldn’t have. Jason Forde over-carried before he was awarded the equalising free.
Earlier, Mickey Cahill shouldn’t have been shown a second yellow card for what was a genuine flick to get the ball from DJ Foran. It wasn’t even careless use of the hurl.
Alan has put so much effort in and made so many sacrifices that for this to happen is cruel. Hopefully, Willie Barrett comes out in the next day or two and tells us that he has spoken to Alan and there is an admission that a genuine mistake was made.
The harsh reality is Alan won’t know where he stands now. He needs to be informed of what his fate will be for the remainder of the Championship. He needs to hear from the GAA they recognise a mistake was made, that they still rate him as a top referee, but that there was a big error. Better he be told than be kept in the dark.
Like it or not, yesterday will strengthen the need for a video referee of some sort. There are some decent press boxes in many counties and most have monitors. If a game is being broadcast live or there is a feed that can be accessed, it may need only 30 seconds for an official to make a call on whether a goal is good or not.
There are just too many major games now not to be looking at the possibility of a TMO. If there had been one in Limerick yesterday, there might have been a different result. It might have remained the same as it finished too but everyone would be able to live with it.
Instead, it’s a huge point on social media and Waterford players will talk about Alan Kelly for years to come. For one game to sum up a man’s refereeing career is unjust but those are the risks.
Alan’s experience couldn’t have been more different to James Owens’ in Páirc Uí Chaoimh the evening before. Talk about chalk and cheese. James and his umpires could go home satisfied having given what was for me the best hurling refereeing performance of the summer. He consulted well with linesman Paud O’Dwyer to rightfully send off Aaron Gillane, although the yellow card for Seán O’Donoghue was unusual. People claimed O’Donoghue should have been dismissed for a second yellow minutes later but you can’t be booked for a single pull of the jersey.
James’ experience told in Cork whereas Johnny Murphy lacked it in Wexford, which was understandable. Johnny went looking for frees whereas James let the frees come to him. Johnny will learn — this was only his second Liam MacCarthy Cup outing — but he was over-fussy.
Conor Lane was solid in Omagh yesterday but wasn’t as impressive as he was in the Galway-Mayo game. He yellow-carded Conor McManus and Che Cullen when the latter should have been black-carded soon after for throwing another Monaghan player to the ground. Monaghan will feel hard done by on the free count.
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