No referee crackdown, says Duffy

PARAIC DUFFY has revealed that the GAA is ‘actively looking into’ the idea of goalpost technology for Gaelic games.

The GAA has been left red-faced over the last two weekends following wrong calls by umpires in the Leinster hurling semi-final ties involving Galway and Offaly.

Galway’s Joe Canning claims he was told by one umpire that a point of his was ruled out in error during the second-half of last Saturday evening’s narrow win.

That replay tie in Portlaoise was only possible after Galway earned a draw six days earlier by virtue of a Ger Farragher wide at Croke Park which was given as a point.

“We are looking at technology in terms of being able to tell whether the ball goes either side of the post, we are doing that,” said the GAA director general Duffy, at yesterday’s announcement of €9.9million in Irish Sports Council funding for the GAA, FAI and IRFU.

“Pat Daly (GAA head of games) is in charge of it and we are looking at it. There is research and they are looking at it, actively looking at it. That is an issue for us.”

The idea of goal area technology is currently en vogue as a result of the furore over Frank Lampard’s ‘goal’ for England against Germany last weekend which was ruled out in error at the World Cup.

But Duffy stressed that the GAA is only interested in goal-post technology and isn’t considering any change to the current situation where umpires decide if a ball has crossed the goal line or not.

“We have been looking at the issue of points, that’s the problem,” continued Duffy. “We rarely have an issue (with goals). We have two umpires standing at the posts. They should be able to see it.

“If there were two umpires there (at the World Cup), Frank Lampard’s goal would have stood. Maybe FIFA can learn from the GAA!”

Ironically, Canning stated on Wednesday that the introduction of any sort of technology would be an over-reaction by the GAA.

Canning also claimed that the game of hurling is becoming like ‘tiddlywinks’ with referees appearing to have launched a crackdown on fouling, resulting in Galway dismissals against Wexford and Offaly in the Leinster championship.

“I can absolutely tell you this – this idea that there has somehow been a decision taken this year to apply these rules, no, no decision was ever taken,” stated Duffy.

“There certainly was never an instruction given. We never said, ‘right, we’re going to get far, far stricter on the rules’. The referees are applying the same rules in the same way as they always have been and I don’t know where this idea comes from.

“Some people... I’ve heard Brian Cody’s selector (Martin Fogarty) on the same theme last week, but I can tell you there was never a decision made that we were going to take the hard line or clean up the game.”

Duffy similarly rejected media reports that the GAA is reeling from dwindling gate receipts at this year’s provincial championships.

He accepted that the GAA may be suffering to a degree from over-exposure of its games on television.

But he claimed any drop in attendance levels is ‘very marginal’.

“There were four live games on TV last Sunday but there were 60,000 in Croke Park and nearly 18,000 in Cavan,” defended Duffy.

“I think you’ll find by the end of the year there’ll be very little difference from last year.

“Regarding revenue, obviously there’s an issue. Attendances are part of your income but there’s other sources like TV money, sponsorship and Sports Council. The biggest problem is there is no longer any government investment in capital projects.”

The Monaghan official described as ‘more than fair’ yesterday’s allocation of €3.156m in Irish Sports Council funding for the GAA, part of an overall €9.9m package.

The GAA will use the money to support the Grassroots to National Programme, Hurling Development and Dublin GAA.

Asked about Dublin GAA’s plans for a Centre of Excellence in Rathcoole, Duffy said officials are currently examining “whether Rathcoole is the place to develop as it will be expensive,” adding that, ”before you see out the development, there’s a huge amount of money will have to be spent.”


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