GAA President Christy Cooney yesterday declared his opposition to the introduction of video technology to determine whether contentious scores in hurling and football should be awarded.
The issue has come under the spotlight on several occasions this summer, including the high-profile example of Joe Sheridan’s illegal goal in the Leinster football and hotly-contested points by Galway’s Ger Farragher in the drawn Leinster semi-final against Offaly along with an effort from Cork’s Ben O’Connor in the drawn Munster final against Waterford.
Despite the argument that a video referee would help solve the dilemmas facing officials, Cooney is vehemently against it and argues that it would destroy the continuity of gaelic games.
He insisted: “I’m totally opposed to it. It’s fine in rugby because it deals with whether a try takes place or not. Take last Saturday in Thurles, there was 31 scores. If we stop every time for 31 scores we’ll have breaks in our play.
“That’s not what our game is about. Our game is about continuity. Our game is about passion. Our game is about spills. It’s a totally different game and I’m not in favour of it.”
Cooney defended the standard of umpiring in this year’s championship despite the spate of controversies around scores in recent weeks. He also denied suggestions umpires were merely ‘cronies’ of the referee and revealed that there will not be a review of how they are appointed.
“They are not cronies. That is a myth, and it’s an unfair comment for anybody to make.
“They are there because they are very good at what they do. The umpires are there with referees through national leagues and through club games. They give of their time freely and are very well trained. By and large, our umpires have done an outstanding job. Of course we need to review what happens when mistakes are made, but I can guarantee a referee or umpire will be the first to know they have made a mistake.
“We constantly work with our umpires. We’ve had a training programme in place for the last three years with umpires, and with referees to ensure how they stand, where they stand, and that they make the right decisions.
“But they are human beings and they make mistakes. There have been a certain number of controversies, with opinions on points and penalties in the last few weeks, but that’s not unique. Our umpires do a very good job, but they are capable of making a mistake like anybody else. Particularly in hurling it’s harder. The ball is travelling so fast and it’s more difficult. We will continue to support them.”
Cooney revealed that he had contacted under-fire referee Martin Sludden last week and advised him to take time to get over the Leinster final controversy.
“I rang him at the end of the week because I felt it was important,’’ Cooney revealed. “He needed support as well. It’s a challenging time for him and his family. I just said he needs to take time to recover and he’ll be back performing in games again in the future. He gives of his time freely and deserves our support. I know Mick Curley (referees’ chief) would have spoken to him shortly after the game to offer him support because it’s a difficult, difficult time for referees.”
Cooney reiterated that the GAA authorities provided the requisite leadership during last week’s crisis in the aftermath of the Leinster decider and does not believe the GAA rule book needs to be altered to provide a mechanism to deal with a potential repeat situation in the future.
“The comments that came out last week that there was a lack of consultation and a lack of advice from Croke Park was way off the mark. We offered enormous leadership. There was no horse-trading went on. Meath were asked by everybody to consider a replay situation. Meath, in their wisdom, made a decision not to offer a replay. The Leinster Council couldn’t tell them they had to do that, neither could we at national level. That’s the rules that are there.
“The rule book is there and we have to abide by the rules. How many opportunities do you say you have to change your rule book because of a, b, c, d? I could keep talking about it forever. In general our rule book has served us well. People accept in a sporting way the decisions that are made on the field of play.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved