Evans: Football done for year

Roscommon manager John Evans. “I am not being totally negative when I say that may have been the last game of football.

Of course we are going to see great games of football, but not as free-flowing.” Picture: Inpho

If I had my way, I would most definitely have two referees.

Roscommon manager John Evans warned GAA fans that the Division 1 league final between Tyrone and Dublin could be the last game of open football they will see this year.

Following last weekend’s open U21 final and the recent league final the game looked to have turned a corner from the defence-focused approach to attacking football. However, the Kerry native is not so sure.

“I don’t know. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that,” he said.

“When the league final was over I turned to my son and he said to me that was a refreshing game of football. ‘Mind it’ I said ‘it could be the last game of football you’ll see for the year’.

“There is too much at stake. It is partly because you get your best team in, you get your most physical, strongest, fittest team together.

“The days of the light fast fella… You will see as it goes on. You have to be defence-minded. You have to be calculating in your attacks. It is not win at all costs but it certainly changes the nature of the game.

“I am not being totally negative when I say that may have been the last game of football, of course we are going to see great games of football, but not as free-flowing.”

Galway manager Alan Mulholland agreed a pragmatic approach would be taken by teams in the championship. While his county’s U21s have twice sparked debate about the future style of the game, he believes football supporters must be realistic with their expectations.

“I think Jim Gavin is trying to play a kind of open football in the league, it will be interesting to see how that translates in the championship now as well,” he said.

“There would be a consensus that Galway footballers like to play football. We do but we have to be pragmatic as well and play what is in front of us too and adapt for each game as it comes so that is where we are going to focus. We are going to try and play as much football as we can this summer but we have to be realistic too and see who we are playing against.”

For Evans, the biggest inhibitor to free-flowing football comes from the criticism of referees. The former Tipperary manager believes the job has become impossible for one man and called on the GAA to change the role of a linesman and have two referees for every game.

“I think the referees are coming under unnecessary criticism and I would be in favour of something that would support them, whether that would be through their linesmen or through having a second referee or even a third referee. I can’t see one referee seeing it all.

“I mean that in the most positive light of all. If I had my way, I would most definitely have two referees.

“At the moment I would incorporate them [linesmen]. I think they are being incorporated with the ‘talk-throughs’. Certainly give them more power.

“Two referees would definitely need to come into it. We have taken the game to huge high levels of fitness, to high levels of skill. You saw the pace that has come into the game, the nature of the defensive tackles that are there.

“It is very strong, it is crunching stuff but to have one referee trying to decide all of this while you have the whole lot of this going on at the one time, I don’t think that works.”

While Evans accepts there will be extra expense on the GAA to get two referees to take charge of games he also believes there has been a rise in refereeing numbers to meet demands.

“In the last 10 years there has been a huge response to refereeing by young people and to see the amount of young players coming through has been fantastic.”


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