Game needs two referees at top level, insists Evans
Published 10/05/2013 | 05:00
Roscommon manager John Evans would prioritise the introduction of a second referee to inter-county football if he was given a free hand to make changes to the game.
Evans, the former Tipperary manager who helped coach Meath for a brief period last year, believes the time is right for the role of the referee to be split at the highest level.
Changes in the nature of the tackle and the pace at which a game is played have placed huge pressure on referees –whose performances continue to improve, Evans acknowledges.
The Kerryman also feels that free-flowing football – such as that seen in the league final between Dublin and Tyrone – won't be seen again this year.
"I have been asked a good few times what I would like to improve in the game and I have changed my mind over the years, from pick-up to the high catch," he said.
"But I think the referees are coming under unnecessary criticism and I would be in favour of something that would support them.
"I can't see one referee seeing it all. If I had my way, I would most definitely have two referees. Linesmen are being incorporated with the 'talk-throughs' and I would certainly give them more power, but two referees would definitely need to come into it.
"We have taken the game to very high levels of fitness and skill. You can see the pace that has come into the game, the nature of the tackles.
"It is very strong, it is crunching stuff but to have one referee trying to decide while you have all of this going on at the same time, I don't think it's (feasible)."
Evans remains sceptical about the prospect of a change in direction that Gaelic football could take ahead of the new championship season.
"I wouldn't hold my breath on that. When the league final was over, I turned to my son and he said to me that it was a refreshing game of football. 'Mind it', I said, 'it could be the last game of football you see for the year'," he said.
"There is too much at stake. It is partly because you get your best team in, you get your most physical, strongest, fittest team together. The days of the light, fast fella are receding.
"You will see as it goes on, you have to be defence-minded. You have to be calculating in your attacks. It is not 'win at all costs', but it certainly changes the nature of the game.
"I am not being totally negative when I say it may have been the 'last game of football' – of course we are going to see great games of football, but it won't be as free-flowing."
Evans accepts that you can never get the full picture of how a team is going to play in the league.
"There is a bit of everything because in the league you are trying out players. That is what it is all about and you are not set at all until you get your full block of guys back and you play a few games indoors and see how it goes," he said.
"I wouldn't be as negative as what I said to my son but, at the same time, the free-flowing element of it may be curtailed somewhat."
Galway manager Alan Mulholland admits there will be significant interest in what Dublin's approach to the championship will be after they claimed the league title with Jim Gavin's professed preference for open, attacking football.
"A couple of years ago when we won an All-Ireland U-21 title in Croke Park with what was considered 'open football', there was a clamour for 'that's how Galway should play'," said Mulholland.
"Jim Gavin was trying to play a kind of open football in the league – it will be interesting to see how that translates in the championship.
"There would be a consensus that Galway footballers like to play football. We do, but we have to be pragmatic as well and play what is in front of us and adapt for each game."
Meanwhile, Limerick manager Maurice Horan has eased fears surrounding the participation of their influential midfielder John Galvin in the Munster SFC quarter-final against Cork on May 25.
Galvin hobbled off the pitch with a hamstring problem during the closing stages of Limerick's National League Division 4 final victory over Offaly at Croke Park three weeks ago.
But Horan has revealed that the Croom powerhouse – who made his return from a second cruciate knee ligament injury in this year's league campaign – will return to full training next week.
And an added boost for the Shannonsiders is the news that experienced goalkeeper Brian Scanlon has also returned to full training.