Friday 21 July 2017

Referee Fox left on the sidelines again

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Westmeath referee Pat Fox remains out in the cold after being overlooked for a fourth successive round of football league matches.

Fox has climbed into the top pool of referees in recent seasons and was part of last year's championship panel, taking charge of the Munster football final between Kerry and Limerick.

But he has not been on duty in a league match since the second round of fixtures on the weekend of February 20/21 when he took charge of Donegal and Tyrone at Healy Park in Omagh.

On that night, Tyrone's Ryan McMenamin was involved in an incident with Donegal defender Paddy McGrath that earned him a yellow card. It was the view of many observers, however, that the incident might have deserved a sterner punishment.

It is thought the CCCC reviewed the incident and asked Fox to confirm that he was satisfied with his handling of it.

McMenamin faced no extra censure and has been available for all Tyrone's games since. But Fox, who is fit and available for duty, has been absent since the Tyrone/Donegal game and has been again been overlooked this weekend for one of the 16 ties.

Every other referee in the top three divisions who was on duty on the same weekend as the Tyrone/Donegal game has subsequently been in action.

In the case of David Coldrick, the Tyrone/Kildare Division 2 league fixture in Omagh will be his third outing since taking charge of the Dublin/Cork fixture in Croke Park, which took place on the same night as the McMenamin incident in Omagh.

Interestingly, Cork's Pearse O'Neill escaped any sanction for an equally contentious challenge on Dublin's Eoghan O'Gara that night.

Maurice Deegan, Cormac Reilly, Eddie Kinsella, Rory Hickey, Syl Doyle and Maurice Condon were also on duty that weekend for the other Division 1/ Division 2 games and have officiated since.

Condon refereed the All-Ireland club semi-final between Crossmaglen Rangers and Kilmacud Crokes on February 27 and had two red cards rescinded by the CHC, but those anomalies have not impacted unduly on him as he, too, has been in league action since.

It begs the question as to whether Fox has been sidelined over his apparent refusal to upgrade the McMenamin offence -- just as Brian Crowe clearly was when he expressed satisfaction with the yellow card he handed out to Cork's Noel O'Leary in the early stages of the 2007 All-Ireland semi-final against Meath when he had an altercation with Graham Geraghty. Crowe subsequently refereed very few inter-county games after that.

Former inter-county referee John Bannon has once again submitted a motion to Congress from his club calling for the CCCC to be empowered to review incidents without relying on clarification from the referee.

Irish Independent

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