Secretary O'Reilly slams preferential treatment for top counties
LONGFORD did not get a fair hearing when a referee made a blatant error against them in 2010 because they were not "one of the top counties", according to county secretary Peter O'Reilly.
"The decision to award the (NFL) game to Limerick following an incorrect interpretation of the experimental rules by the referee, who admitted to this in his official report, was an injustice which was further compounded by the Hearings Committee's failure to allow our appeal," O'Reilly told last night's Longford county convention.
"Would the same decision have been arrived at if some of the top counties were in a similar situation?" he asked.
The confusion came about due to last season's experimental rules. O'Reilly slammed the GAA for such trials, saying any rule changes should either be brought into all competitions in a season, or none at all.
"The present situation of different rules in different competitions leads to confusion with players and spectators alike, and especially with referees who might be refereeing with different rules on a number of occasions in a given week, as was the position in our case," he said.
Several rules were trialled during last year's National Leagues and one of them was that a game was only finished when the ball went dead. Longford scrambled in what they felt was the winning goal deep into injury-time in a Division 4 game against Limerick, but referee Sean Carroll disallowed it, saying the free from which it resulted was the last kick of the game.
Longford's plea that the referee had prematurely ended the game and didn't apply the new 'dead ball' rule fell on deaf ears at central level, despite two appeals.
The majority of experimental rules that were trialled during this year's National Football League were thrown out by the time the provincial championships started, after failing to get passed at Congress in April.
Those rejected included the 'mark' in football, a new 'square ball' variation and a new stipulation on the handpass.
Longford famously knocked Mayo out of the football qualifiers last summer before going out to Down and they also won the Leinster minor football title.
But O'Reilly said the current economic climate and the county's small population will leave them vulnerable to emigration.
"Fermanagh, which is of similar size GAA-wise to Longford, stated recently that transfers averaged 20 per month. This sort of transfer rate would wipe out our inter-county playing strength and is something we need to be conscious of in the future," he said.