Liam O'Neill insists All-Ireland referee did a 'fantastic job'
GAA PRESIDENT Liam O'Neill has launched a strong defence of referee Brian Gavin's performance in last Sunday's All-Ireland hurling final.
The Offaly official received criticism for a number of calls during the draw between Cork and Clare, particularly for opting not to send off Rebel Shane O'Neill for a strike on Darach Honan and then for allowing more than 30 seconds on top of the allotted two minutes of injury- time at the end of the second which allowed Clare to equalise and send the game to a replay.
O'Neill argued the addition of a countdown clock would not have changed the time situation and backed Gavin's decision-making.
"Brian Gavin did a fantastic job. He contributed to a great game. People can analyse decisions here and there, but his decision-making was excellent and he made the right call (at the finish). So, happy days," he said.
"Anybody who has an ounce of romance or a sense of fair play wanted Clare to get a chance. That's what made the end so amazing.
"You have to remember that in ladies football the stop-clock stops when the ball goes out of play, so you would end up with the same situation. On balance, you'd have to say it was the correct call."
O'Neill was also keen to challenge the perception that the GAA were in for a bonanza on the back of the replay, pointing to the reduced ticket prices as an example of how they are accommodating fans.
"We appreciate that the counties that are in the final have probably gone to most games," he said.
"So, for the replay, dropping the price is significant recognition of the fact that they have been going to the games all year.
"The the biggest thing – and it has probably been glossed over – is that 5,000 U-16s will get to see an All-Ireland final."
Cavan official Joe McQuillan will referee Sunday week's All-Ireland SFC final between Dublin and Mayo.