Cooney defends refs training after Geraghty 'goal'
AFTER last weekend's championship action was dominated by controversial refereeing decisions, GAA president Christy Cooney has insisted that match day officials have never been better prepared to carry out their duties.
Graham Geraghty's disallowed goal for Meath against Kildare last Sunday has again brought focus on referees but Cooney is happy with the performances of officials and insists the issue is being blown out of proportion.
"There has never been so much training going on for referees and umpires and linesmen," he said.
"Last Sunday, the instant reaction from most people was 'it could be a square ball or it mightn't be a square ball'. The referee had to make the judgment. I'm sure if he called it the other way there would have been different views as well.
"Every umpire has gone through a rigorous weekend of review and training and tests, and they have all been certified to a standard.
"There's not an issue around that. We'd be very happy. We got challenges with regard to our umpires last year and we responded to that and so did the National Referees Committee."
Cooney also defended the right of referees to use their relations on their umpiring team. Wexford referee Syl Doyle's son Ricky and his brother Richard were the umpires at the goal where Geraghty's effort was disallowed.
"I think it is unfair on Syl and his umpires and unfair on his family," said Cooney. "His son has been umpiring with him for quite a while now. It is not an issue as far as I'm concerned. And it shouldn't be made an issue either.
"Let's not just isolate a single incident. They are human beings, they are capable of making a mistake.
"There will be questionable decisions in every match. It depends where you are sitting, where you are looking at it or whether you are for or against the team in any decision -- whether you felt they were wrong or right.
"So let's not blow this out of proportion."
Meanwhile, Sligo's Charlie Harrison wants to see a return to the 'square ball' rule which was trialled in the National Leagues last year to aid referees, claiming that the current rule is "nearly impossible" to enforce.
"I liked the rule (where you could enter the square) when the ball was kicked," said the All Star corner-back. "Everyone was au fait with that and grand with that. There didn't seem to be any problems with the rules then.
"Then they changed it back. They should have just left it the way it was -- the ball has to be kicked and then you can go into the square.
"Or else do what they do in the rugby or International Rules and go to a third official because it's nearly impossible (for the referee) to judge where the ball is at and where the player is at."
Elsewhere, the Croke Park pitch was being dug up yesterday at a cost of €200,000. The surface will be relayed after the Take That concerts on the weekend of June 18/19.