'Right man for Dublin v Kerry final' has not refereed any top-tier games this season
The GAA has defended the decision to appoint a referee who did not officiate at any Division 1 game this season to take charge of Sunday's Dublin-Kerry Allianz Football League final.
Roscommon's Paddy Neilan has been chosen for a clash where the build-up has been marked by inflammatory statements from both counties, fuelling speculation that it will be a fiery affair.
It comes just three weeks after the tempestuous Kerry-Dublin encounter in Tralee last month, where Tyrone referee Seán Hurson flashed13 yellow cards but still struggled to cope with the many outbreaks of indiscipline all over the pitch.
In the circumstances, it was expected that a referee with wide experience at the highest level would have been appointed for Sunday's game but instead Croke Park has opted for Neilan, who had three League outings so far this year - two in Division 2 (Derry v Down, Down v Galway) and one in Division 3 (Sligo v Armagh).
He was appointed for only one Division 1 game last season and did not feature beyond Round 4 of the qualifiers in the championship.
Patrick Doherty, GAA national match officials' manager, said that Neilan was on the top panel of referees and considered "the right man for the final on this occasion".
A total of 42 referees were on the League panel, including all except one (Laois' Eddie Kinsella has retired) of the elite 18 from last year's Championship group.
While there will be some surprise at Neilan's appointment after not giving him any Division 1 games this season, Doherty insisted that was not an issue.
"He is a top-class referee who has shown all the necessary qualities. The rules are the same regardless of the division games are in," said Doherty.