Wednesday 28 September 2016

Is the rule of law tougher on underdogs?

Published 03/08/2016 | 02:30

Westmeath goalkeeper Darren Quinn is adjudged to have over carried the ball which resulted in a Mayo penalty. Photo: Sportsfile
Westmeath goalkeeper Darren Quinn is adjudged to have over carried the ball which resulted in a Mayo penalty. Photo: Sportsfile

Westmeath goalkeeper Darren Quinn was deemed guilty of an offence against Mayo last Saturday that's pulled so rarely you might not even think it exists.

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Penalised by referee Rory Hickey for over-carrying in the small square, Quinn had a penalty awarded against him. Under rule, Hickey made the correct decision once he felt that Quinn had over-carried. Still, something niggles here.

Apart from that particular rule being extremely harsh (one step too many carries the same punishment as a crunching foul by a defender) there's the issue of how Quinn was the unlucky one.

In the vast majority of cases, goalkeepers are awarded a free out when challenged and while that shouldn't always be the case, No.1's have come to expect it.

When last did you see a goalkeeper from a big power concede a penalty for over-carrying? Heaven forbid that any of the famous ones would commit such a foul or, worse still, be pulled up for it.

On Sunday, Clare defender, Shane Hickey was penalised by Maurice Deegan for either dragging James O'Donoghue or blocking his run. The referee was some distance from the scene of the alleged crime but instantly found in favour of the Kerryman, awarding a close-in free.

I kept a look out for similar incidents at the other end later on and spotted at least two occasions when a Clare forward was subjected to the same treatment, without getting a free. Presumably, Deegan didn't spot it, which is understandable, since referees can't see everything.

Still, the Quinn and O'Donoghue incidents raise a question which has always remained unanswered across several sports - do players from more successful teams get more favourable treatment from the refereeing fraternity?

Count me in with those who claim that they do.

Irish Independent

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