The two live TV games yesterday were boosted by impressive performances by both referees who applied the rules consistently.
It led to quite a few frees being given but it’s the players on show who commit the fouls.
The opinion that some might be cheap or of a soft nature is irrelevant. A free is a free.
Colm Lyons was correct in issuing a red card to Pat Donnellan at half-time as well as Seánie Tobin in the second half. Neither player can have any excuse.
Lyons, however, did miss a foul by Jack Browne in the 35th minute and it appeared Limerick’s first 65 in the second half shouldn’t have been awarded.
The same umpire caused confusion in the 62nd minute when he needed the assistance of his referee to adjudge that a close-range Shane Dowling free went between the posts. HawkEye has been installed in Semple Stadium but has not been used as of yet as further tests are being carried out. In such a tight game, sideline ball calls can be crucial and although it seemed the right decision was made in the 54th minute it looked like a Limerick player kicked the ball over the sideline in the 67th minute. Limerick were awarded the restart and at that stage the sides were level.
In Kingspan Breffni Park, Conor McManus had a fine game in helping Monaghan edge out Cavan although the TV showed he was holding the jersey of his marker when he was fouled for a free in the 58th minute. Then he used his free hand to hold him off before he scored a brilliant point from play.
My fellow Irish Examiner columnist Dónal Óg Cusack has spoken about the use of the free hand in hurling but it is also an issue in Gaelic football and the player in possession can cod referees into giving them frees by holding onto or pulling their marker in.
But you couldn’t be too harsh on Padraig Hughes who controlled the game well. In the 20th minute, Paul Finlay was awarded a free, a fine example of the right decision when a foul is committed.
On another note, this weekend’s rugby raised an eyebrow or two about the nationality of referees. In Gaelic games, it’s always an issue where the match official is from or where their wives and parents are from. The Pro12 semi-finals saw George Clancy from Limerick take charge of Ulster’s game with Glasgow, and Wales’ Nigel Owens officiate Munster’s clash with the Ospreys. Both endured a lot of booing and while I wouldn’t question the integrity of either you have to ask why they were put in charge of big games involving their countrymen.
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