GAA legends Mick O’Dwyer and Billy Morgan have questioned the appointment of Marty Duffy ahead of Pat McEnaney as referee for Sunday’s All-Ireland final.
The Sligo official’s CV includes county and provincial finals, as well as the NFL title decider between Kerry and Derry at Croke Park earlier this year, but this will be his first time in charge of the championship’s showpiece event.
Duffy has a reputation as a stickler when it comes to refereeing and, if that habit continues next weekend, it will provide a marked contrast to Diarmuid Kirwan’s handling of the hurling final two weekends ago.
“Once the game is refereed fairly, you don’t mind,” said Morgan at a special Vodafone function yesterday.
“I was a bit surprised with the appointment of Mary Duffy as referee. In my opinion, you should have your best man out for the All-Ireland final and I don’t think it should matter if he has refereed two All-Ireland finals or 10 All-Ireland finals. If he is the best man for the job, then he should get it. In my opinion, the best man for the job in the country is Pat McEnaney and I am surprised he didn’t get it.”
O’Dwyer agreed. “Yes, that is true. McEnaney is certainly the best referee and we should have the best man doing the All-Ireland final because it is a very, very important one. The last day in the hurling final, the referee, he did a great job. He let the game flow.
“In football at present any niggling fouls are being pulled. Common sense is very, very important to let the game flow but I have my doubts if this man on Sunday will do that. But anyway, we are hoping that he will do a good job and that he will be fair on the day. The two teams that’s all they want – fair play on the day.”
Asked later on what grounds Duffy’s appointment could have been made, O’Dwyer replied: “What would be the reason? Politics I suppose. Sure they keep on changing anyway. It’s good to see young fellas coming to it. There aren’t enough young fellas refereeing. They should go through the colleges and get more young fellas involved in the game, that’s most important.”
In what was a timely comment given the controversy in the hurling decider, O’Dwyer went on to say that referees should be held accountable for decisions made during games.
“That’s very important. They’re all the time coming into managers and asking questions. Why not interview referees as well after the game or the following day? Get his opinion.”
Meanwhile, O’Dwyer will decide on his own future as Wicklow manager in the coming weeks after three years in the role and taking the county on its longest and most successful championship campaign in its history.
“You have to reflect as you go on in life. I am doing a bit of reflecting, I am doing a bit of fishing. I am pretty busy at the moment. We’ll have a chat and see how things are. We’ll have to set up a system in Wicklow that is satisfactory if I do go back.”
O’Dwyer believes the squad requires four or five more players to become a “top class” team and urged the county board to do all in its power to foster a consistent delivery of underage talent through to the senior game.
“The underage structure is most important. If they can put that in place, that’s where they’ll come from. Seemingly, about 2,800 young fellas turned out for the Cúl camps this year so that’s an improvement down there.
“If they keep those fellas playing, in about 10 years you’ll see the benefits.”
Whatever O’Dwyer’s intentions, he believes Wicklow’s performances in this year’s championship should earn at least two All-Stars but he believes the system is skewed in favour of those who shine in September.
“I’d be expecting a couple of them anyway,” he said. “There were some marvellous performances from some of the players. Ciaran Hyland was outstanding. The best forward on every team that we played, who did we put on him? Ciaran Hyland. He did a job on him every time.
“Leighton Glynn, sure he has proved it in the Australian game as well, what a footballer he is. Seanie Furlong and Tony Hannon, they’re outstanding. Normally they’ll complete most of the All-Stars out of the All-Ireland final which is totally wrong. They should be done all over the year. Pick your players as you go along.
“You have so many points for given games right through. That’s the best way. The fairest way. I mean, a fella can go into an All-Ireland final and perform and be outstanding and a guy who has been consistent all year is not selected. That’s wrong.”
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