The lack of competitive games this weekend ensured they passed without any major controversy, even as we get close to the summit of the football season.
In the Dublin-Fermanagh game yesterday, Padraig O’Sullivan’s umpire gave the referee every chance to award Stephen Cluxton a free for being illegitimately tackled and pushed over the goal-line for Fermanagh’s first goal. After consultation, he incorrectly awarded the score.
In the other game, David Coldrick got the one decision he needed to get right - Mark Donnellan’s fair tackle on James O’Donoghue in the penalty area.
He also was right when whistling Kevin Murnaghan for two hops in the 34th minute.
On another note, it seems unfair on those freetakers, such as Bryan Sheehan, who kick from the ground when they are asked to replace the ball exactly where the free occurred, when those who kick from their hands steal a number of metres and no action is taken.
On Saturday, Rory Hickey correctly punished Ronan McNamee for a throw ball in the 53rd minute. Brendan Egan was also punished rightly for a high elbow.
Watching that Tyrone-Sligo game, in which HawkEye was called on twice, I wondered how such inter-county umpires would act outside of Croke Park where the technology isn’t available.
Eddie Kinsella was by far the busiest referee of the four in Croke Park over the weekend. There were several instances in the Donegal-Galway game which intensified the black card debate.
Managers and players seem to have acclimatised to it, but spectators are still confused and many of them believe all personal fouls should be black carded.
The pulling in and going to ground action of players gives the impression that there is a pull down when contact is made.
However, in the 12th minute Michael Murphy made contact with Gary Sice and, if the Galway man had gone to ground, Eddie would have had to make a more difficult decision.
In the 31st minute, Sice fouled Paddy McGrath, tackling him from behind and over the shoulder. It could have been black, but it was unclear to me. Murphy’s foul on Sice in the 35th minute was a definite yellow, though I wasn’t so sure McGrath’s black card was merited, as it didn’t look like a pulldown.
Murphy was fortunate not to be black carded in the 40th minute when he put his leg out in front of Gary O’Donnell as he attempted to collect the ball.
In the 48th minute, Damien Comer should have been awarded a free for a foul by Éamonn Doherty. In the 66th minute, Cathal Sweeney fouled Leo McLoone before McLoone grabbed his arm. Three Galway defenders argued, but it was a clear foul initially by Sweeney.
With only five games left and club championship swinging into action across the country, the need to educate people about the black card has never been greater, because the confusion hasn’t abated.
Produce a video of clips, let people know what interpretations they can expect from referees because right now it’s as clear as mud.
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