Skehan: Gardiner’s Kilkenny ref claims don’t add up

Former Kilkenny selector Noel Skehan has slammed John Gardiner’s claim that games involving Kilkenny are refereed differently.

The Cork defender claimed teams, when they face Kilkenny, have to be prepared for referees to act differently.

Gardiner was quoted as saying: “It’s no secret at this stage. It is different to any other game you are going to play. And other teams are going to have to get used to that. There is no hiding the fact games are refereed differently when Kilkenny are playing. That is the way it was, there could have been frees given that weren’t given against them. It is frustrating for players because there is no consistency in how games are refereed. You wouldn’t mind if it happened across the board, where referees let games flow. But you play against other counties and frees are given for stuff; when you play Kilkenny, the frees don’t come.

“We just have to get up to their intensity and have the mentality that when you play Kilkenny, you are not going to get the frees.”

However, Kilkenny goalkeeping legend Skehan, who flanked Brian Cody between 2003 and ‘05, contradicted Gardiner’s assertions.

“I wouldn’t agree with that,” said Skehan.

“The game has the same rules, same instructions. I hope it’s not a touch of sour grapes from John Gardiner.

“Why would they (the rules) be any different? In the league final, there was nothing funny about the refereeing.

“The calls certainly didn’t do anything to enhance Kilkenny’s performance. It’s disappointing hearing that particularly from John Gardiner. It doesn’t go down well anyway. It doesn’t do him any favours.”

Meanwhile, Kilkenny’s Brian Hogan suggested John Mulhall may have been axed from the panel for a lack of focus in matches.

“Even when the game’s not going your way you still have to be in the game, you still have to be imposing yourself and maybe John hasn’t done that,” said Hogan.

“He played well last year in the league in patches but possibly this year didn’t play his best hurling and was under pressure.”

However, Hogan said Mulhall — the only real victim of Brian Cody’s ritual pre-Championship cull — was unlucky to be omitted from the panel.

“He (Cody) always tends to do it around this time of year, just after the league, coming into the Championship — bring in a few new faces and keep everyone on their toes as well. John was unfortunate, he was the one that lost out this time.”

Hogan, who is recovering from a torn leg muscle, also confirmed Henry Shefflin is back in full training but Michael Fennelly and Michael Rice are major doubts for next month’s Leinster semi-final against Dublin or Laois.


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