I often compare refereeing to playing.
When footballers or hurlers play well they usually make the right decisions. Everything falls into place for them.
The same goes for refereeing. When you are doing your job well, most — if not all — your decisions tend to work out well, whether it’s allowing advantage here or awarding a foul there.
Having watched Maurice Deegan ref a number of games this year, I can safely say we got something similar to what he has provided previously. In fact, we got the same performance yesterday as we did in his first Championship game between Armagh and Cavan when he disallowed a Jamie Clarke goal and gave the forward a free instead.
On three occasions, he pulled back the play when there were goal opportunities had he let the play continue: twice with Alan Freeman, one of them after he had found the net in the 25th minute, and another occasion with Conor McAliskey.
From that point, he is consistent in his interpretation of such situations. If there is criticism to give, it should be directed towards the referees appointments committee who appear happy to reappoint Maurice for games.
There were a number of times yesterday when I felt he made wrong decisions. In the first half, he incorrectly blew for a foul on Joe McMahon by Alan Dillon, one involving Cillian O’Connor on the end line at the Canal End and then in the 49th minute Lee Keegan was lucky to be given a free.
The first free scored by Freeman was also debatable and while he was right to book Aidan O’Shea in the 31st minute for a foul on Colm Cavanagh, Pascal McConnell’s rash reaction to it, involving himself with O’Shea, also merited a caution.
The penalty given to Mayo for Dermot Carlin’s foul on Colm Boyle was a bad call when TV replays clearly showed the foul was committed outside the rectangle.
Maurice, however, was correct not to award Tyrone a penalty in the 49th minute. It was not a foot-block by Keegan.
But Mayo did deserve punishment in the form of a yellow card for Donal Vaughan for pulling down Ciarán McGinley shortly afterwards, though only a free was awarded.
It’ll now be interesting to see who is appointed for next Sunday’s other semi-final. Considering whoever is appointed won’t have much time to prepare for the game mentally and physically, it’s likely to be an even bigger ask than usual.
On the minor game, Wicklow’s Anthony Nolan had a positive game. In a very open affair, he was sharp, particularly on hand-offs from players in possession.
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