Wexford are to appeal the red card issued to Conor McDonald during their defeat of Dublin in the Allianz Hurling League last weekend but it is the officiating rather than any players who are in the spotlight this week.
McDonald was one of three players sent off by referee Johnny Murphy in that Croke Park encounter.
Thirteen yellows and 50 frees were counted by the end of the game at HQ which Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald believes was not ‘on the edge’ in terms of physicality.
There was more hand-wringing the following afternoon when Sean Cleere took charge of the Cork-Limerick game with a number of ‘soft’ frees awarded and players penalised for what were perceived to be throws rather than hand-passing.
Fitzgerald admitted after his game that he had rarely been so frustrated and he contrasted that approach to the rules yesterday with Wexford’s championship meeting with Kilkenny last summer, refereed by Fergal Horgan, which was allowed to flow far more.
“Whether I won or lost on Saturday, I promise you my demeanour and attitude would have been the exact same.
"Frustration is a big thing and I’m not going to put it towards Johnny Murphy as such because I think there was another game or two that was the exact same.
“And if you really look at it, like, you could blow frees non-stop. If you were really technical about the exact rule you could blow non-stop.
"If you think of one of the games of the championship it was us versus Kilkenny, toe-to-toe down here, and it was one of the best games.
“I’d say the free count was barely double figures yet I don’t think Fergal got a game afterwards.”
Fitzgerald is correct in that.
Horgan didn’t get the nod for any subsequent game in the race for the Liam MacCarthy in 2019 and the overall manner in which hurling contests are being refereed and the laws framing the game are nothing if not topical.
A motion to introduce a black card for hurling is on the agenda at the upcoming GAA Congress while Limerick have tabled a proposal that would allow captains or managers to challenge certain in-game decisions.
Fitzgerald isn’t crazy about either of them.
Making more of the officials already on hand would be his preference.
“Let’s not bring more cards into it. We have what we have and I’m happy enough with it. I’d like to see sideline officials get more power because it’s very hard for the referee to see every single thing that’s happening right. That’s all I’m saying to you.
“He could get a small bit of a hand if players are being held and their runs are being checked all the time.
"Then the sideline official can totally see what’s happening. He needs to have the power to say to the referee, ‘Johnny, I’ve seen X, Y and Z’.”