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Criticising referees is also a fair game

As a person who has been involved in refereeing as an umpire at all levels including All-Ireland finals in the ’70/’80s I take a particular interest in the performance of the referee, and indeed, the assessments by John Bannon each Monday in the Irish Examiner, which are very good.

However, over the past weekends it’s not been good for both James McGrath and Joe McQuillian. In the case of James McGrath, it could be said that the sun was very blinding in LImerick when Paudie O’Brien went down when the sliothar hit him on the forehead, just as Pat Horgan made contact with his helmet.

I was delighted for Pat Horgan when he was cleared to play. Also for James McGrath, as his refereeing career could have ended if Pat Horgan had missed the game against Kilkenny.

As we all know, Cork is a very sporting county in any sport. But if they feel they were wronged, somebody will suffer. Now at last Saturday week’s game in Newbridge we saw Joe McQuillian jostled as he walked off the pitch. This is not what anybody wants to see at our games. Yet in Monday’s Irish Examiner Evan McKenna, who covered the game for your paper, highlighted many of the mistakes by Joe McQuillian that caused the Kildare supporters to be annoyed with him.

Indeed, over the past three years that same referee has been in a lot of controversy with the 2011 Kerry v Dublin final being the most talked about. I was surprised to hear the Tyrone manager Mickey Harte describing the Kildare supporters as losing the run of themselves after the game. It’s only a short 12 months since Mickey Harte was very critical of referee David Goldrick when he laid down the law for Tyrone and Kerry in the qualifier game in Killarney and proved that he is by far the best football referee in the country at the moment.

Indeed, watching the umpires at the moment we seem to be going the way of Australian Rules football in the way that they just nod at each other when the ball goes over the bar.

I suppose they will soon be wearing hats.

Michael Barrett
Newcastle West
Co Limerick


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