Jim Gavin believes the GAA should seriously consider the introduction of a Television Match Officials to help police Gaelic games, but only on the proviso that it be made available in all four provinces.
The Dublin manager has also insisted that Hawk-Eye should be rolled out across the country.
TMOs have become a staple of the rugby experience and, with the pressure on GAA referees in the modern era, there is a growing consensus that the technology could help decide critical decisions in the inter-county game.
“Anything that can add to the game, no more so than Hawkeye, would be of benefit, but we need to be cognisant as well of the provincial grounds where we play many of our Gaelic games,” said Gavin.
“Every game isn’t in Thurles or Croke Park. That’s the issue with Hawk-Eye as well. That needs to be put out to the provincial grounds as well for the balance of fairness for all teams that play.”
Dublin have been no strangers to big calls this summer with Joe McQuillan criticised for his handling of their drawn All-Ireland semi-final with Mayo even though it proved to be the sort of occasion which was all but impossible to officiate. What powers would lie with a TMO is another argument. The use of TMOs has infiltrated further and further into rugby with many claiming the referee’s powers to consult should now be curbed.
Would a GAA TMO adjudicate on the legitimacy of just scores or fouls in the penalty area and cards as well?
“It’s easy for people to be critical of referees in hindsight,” said Gavin.
“It’s a challenge. We have two very dynamic games in hurling and football.
“It’s a challenge for all match officials to get things right at that particular instance in time, so it’s something could be explored.
“I’m not advocating that as the way to go, but anything that can help referees … I’m on record as saying that the standards have improved throughout the year and over the last few years so it’s going in the right direction.”
Gavin was less willing to engage on the GAA’s disciplinary system which has been seriously compromised by the growing numbers of players who have managed to wriggle out of proposed suspensions – as was the case with Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly for the replay with Mayo.
“The disciplinary process that the GAA have set up is there for the Association’s members and to make sure that members get due process. It’s a process that we took. I think it’s fit for purpose.
“We’ve got over that particular issue now and we’re just looking forward to an All-Ireland final.”
Connolly was ultimately a shadow of the player he can be in that replay, but Dublin as a collective will have benefited considerably from that extra run, just as Eamonn Fitzmaurice admitted Kerry had when it took them two days to see off Mayo 12 months before.
Having suffered under Kerry’s yoke for decades, it is Dublin who approach Sunday’s All-Ireland decider with the whip hand after their victories in the 2011 final and the 2013 semi, but the frisson inherent in the modern rivalry was apparent in Killarney where they met last March.
Kerry won by two points that day. It was just their second win in nine league and championship meetings and it was one posted after an afternoon that delivered four black cards, one red and seven yellow.
“It was very intense with two teams going hard at it. They were difficult conditions for both teams that day, if you remember. There was quite a hail shower and a strong wind blowing after half-time which made conditions very difficult for both sets of players. But I thought it was a cracking game of football.
“It was a great experience and our younger players learned a lot from it.” Indeed they are and it will be fascinating to watch Dublin attempt to usurp them.
There are no shortage of tactical and personnel battles that intrigue before the day dawns. Among them will be how Kerry contain a Dublin attack that has racked up 17 goals in half-a-dozen games this summer. They have yet to score less than two on a given day, in fact.
“It’s something that we practise in training,” said Gavin. “We’d like to think we play a skill-based game. What we’ve always gone after is that catch-and-kick philosophy. I’m not saying it’s the right way, it’s just the way football is played in Dublin.
“We would always encourage the players if they believe in their technical competency to take a shot, either for a point from an acute angle or for a goal. That’s creativeness in the players that as coach I would encourage.”
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