Former All-Ireland SFC final referee Eddie Kinsella says Joe McQuillan “wouldn’t be human if he wasn’t nervous” ahead of taking charge of Sunday’s All-Ireland final.
Kinsella, who retired from inter-county whistling last year, officiated the Dublin-Mayo All-Ireland semi-final replay in 2015 after McQuillan was the man in the middle for the drawn game.
The Laois man admits he was a nervous wreck before officiating the 2014 All-Ireland final between Kerry and Donegal. As experienced as McQuillan is (this will be the Cavan man’s third final), Kinsella expects he will be anxious prior to throw-in.
“You’d be nervous and Joe will be nervous but the only reason is fear of making a mistake. It’s always the same for an All-Ireland final or semi-final — you’re hoping to get through without making a blunder.
“There have been times when I’ve come off the field not realising I made a mistake until I’ve watched the game back. So you’re coming away thinking you did okay and you mightn’t have. Get the red, yellow and black card decisions right and that’s half the battle won.
“Joe wouldn’t be normal if he wasn’t nervous. He is such a laidback person but I guarantee he’ll be nervous. Any referee who says he isn’t is talking bulls***. You might look cool and calm but inside you’ve butterflies. I was s****ing a brick (in 2014).
“Refereeing is becoming terribly identical to playing the game. They share the same standards, you have to be fit and make the right decisions. Joe will be doing his best on the day, he’s a top man and I expect he will have a good final.”
Sunday will be Dublin and Mayo’s sixth championship meeting in five seasons, their fifth in three. Kinsella accepts their familiarity is a factor to consider from a referee’s point of view but not a significant one.
“They’re two footballing teams who play attractive, attacking football. The replay two years ago was a brilliant game to referee, nothing only end-to-end stuff. I think I gave only one yellow card in the first half and that was to Cillian O’Connor.
“The fact they know each other well might make it a little bit more difficult to referee but I’m not sure this will be a hard game to referee. I could be wrong but I know Joe won’t be approaching it like it will be easy. There a couple of players on each team who are awkward and by that I mean they are over-aggressive going for the ball and that kind of thing but they’re all good footballers.” Meanwhile, referees chief Seán Walsh is fully confident McQuillan will acquit himself well on Sunday. Reaction among Dublin and Mayo fans to news of the Cavan referee’s appointment was mixed but the referees development committee chairman is completely satisfied with the Willie Barrett-led appointments group’s decision in selecting McQuillan.
“He’s one of the top referees in the country and I’m absolutely certain he will do an excellent job on Sunday,” said Walsh.
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