NATIONAL referees chief Mick Curley has insisted that weekend refereeing mistakes which saw two Gaelic football matches being concluded when the ball was in play were simply a result of ‘human error’.
Curley also reiterated his call for patience amongst GAA players and management as referees attempt to adjust to the new experimental playing rules.
Saturday’s NFL Division 4 tie between Longford and Limerick, and Sunday’s O’Byrne Cup final clash between DCU and Louth both ended in controversial circumstances as referees Sean Carroll (Westmeath) and Joe Curley (Meath) blew the final whistle when the ball was still in play in the respective games.
Under the new guidelines introduced for the 2010 pre-season competitions and national leagues, matches can only conclude after the allotted playing time when the ball goes out of play.
“I think as regards the Limerick – Longford game, the referee (Sean Carroll) acknowledged his mistake,” says Mick Curley. “He said he made a mistake in blowing his whistle when the ball was still in play and I think that mistake has been admitted.
“These are new rules and it’s taking everyone a while to settle in on them. Once the ball goes out of play that’s it and once everybody gets used to that it’ll be an awful lot easier to manage. Human error plays a role. I think that’s what happened in those games. That’s all it was. There was nothing deliberate about it.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a concern because the rules are very new. If the rules were in place for a year and something like that was happening, it would be more of a concern at that stage.”
Meanwhile, Curley also praised the reaction of gardaí and stewards at Sunday’s All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds in escorting Sligo referee Michael Duffy off the pitch at half-time and full-time as he was confronted by members of the Portlaoise club incensed at this decision to send off defender Brian Mulligan in the first minute. Curley admitted the approaches made towards the referee were ‘a concern’ but argued it was an isolated incident and that there was not much more that could be done to improve the security of match officials.
“It would be a concern but the good thing is that this doesn’t happen too often. We’d be thankful for that but maybe once is too often. If you take it in the overall context of the amount of matches played around the country, incidents like that are the exception rather than the rule. I thought the stewards and the gardaí did a good job there Sunday.
“I don’t think he (ref) actually was blocked from getting down the tunnel. I don’t know is there an awful lot more that can be done. The situation with pitches the way they are and tunnels the way they are, that’s the way they’re built. Maybe it’s something for the future building of stadiums.
“Referees have to go off the field at some place and they’re going to be near to meeting the crowd regardless of whether it’s in the middle of the field or in the corner.”
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