Just as referees’ performances are open to criticism when it’s deserved, they should be praised when it’s due.
Barry Kelly’s display yesterday was a fine one. From the first minute when he correctly blew a free against Matthew O’Hanlon for a foul on Shane Dowling, he was on top of his game.
In the first half, David Breen was also correctly penalised for handling the ball three times.
Kelly allowed one minute of additional time at the end of the first half but when a stoppage took place 10 seconds into that minute he was entitled to let that extra 50 seconds play and in that time Limerick scored two goals.
The second of them saw Dowling put the ball into the net with his hand, which like in football is permitted providing it’s not a hand-pass and the ball is already in flight. It was a perfectly legitimate score and Kelly knew he was right to allow it.
Praise must also be given to Kelly for calling a halt to play in the 55th minute when Richie McCarthy took a serious bang on the head.
Too many referees allow play to continue when there are serious injuries but Kelly knew immediately that the Limerick full-back was hurt.
Kelly was also on the ball in giving O’Hanlon a red card at the end of his game, which had a lot more to it than the second one officiated by Brian Gavin.
He rightly punished Peter Kelly for a wild swing on Seamus Callanan in the eighth minute and was also correct not to award Conal Keaney a free in the 28th minute when he didn’t use the ball. Alan McCrabbe had to be punished for an obvious foul on Patrick Maher in the 21st minute.
In the football on Saturday, there were two black card incidents that went unpunished. In the first game, Brendan Egan deliberately body-collided with Brian O’Driscoll in the 33rd minute. Egan committed another foul in the 37th minute against Michael Shields but it wasn’t until he impinged on Brian Hurley in the 53rd minute that he picked up a yellow card.
David Gough was accurate in punishing Pa Hughes for a push on Shields in the fourth minute and James Kilcullen for throwing the ball in the 37th minute.
However, Sligo did have a few decisions that questionably went against them in the first half. Kevin McDonnell should have been given a free in the fifth minute but it went Cork’s way for holding onto the ball too long. Two minutes later, Charlie Harrison was brought to ground but received no free and then Hughes was whistled for overcarrying when he was the victim. To cap it, Harrison was illegitimately knocked off balance for touching the ball on the ground in the 32nd minute.
In the following game, it’s a mystery why Brian Fox wasn’t black-carded for what was a deliberate pull down against James Kavanagh in the 40th minute.
Steven O’Brien was rightly shown one later in the game for a hand-trip on Paul Conroy, but it’s obvious that inconsistency is damaging the implementation of the black card.
In the 12th minute, Barry Grogan escaped hopping the ball twice but Conor Sweeney wasn’t so lucky in the 61st minute. Grogan was involved in a key moment in the 33rd minute when he lost possession when being tackled by Finian Hanley. The ball was moved to the other end where Galway netted.
Some Tipperary supporters took issue with it but their players didn’t appear to be upset that Barry Cassidy had got it wrong.
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