Monday 24 July 2017

Have your say: The umpire strikes back in ref debate

I'd like to take this opportunity to express my opinion on some of the recent contributions made by GAA pundits and, in particular, Colm O'Rourke.



As an umpire on duty at the Leinster Senior Football Championship semi-final in Croke Park between Dublin and Kildare, I feel that I am entitled to make a small contribution of my own regarding the criticism levelled at referee Cormac Reilly and referees in general.

Being close to the action, so to speak, we officials see, at first hand, the frustrations of players, managers and supporters alike. But we have to be impartial in our efforts to apply the rules of Gaelic football.

As Colm well knows, we, as a team of officials, operate at inter-county and also at club level. We hear criticism levelled at managers when they make tactical errors which are detrimental to their team's results. So we can understand the pressures that they are under. We would never want to add to their woes.

Kevin McStay made a surprising statement in the TV commentary [on the Leinster semi-final] when the foul on Bernard Brogan was committed and the referee blew his whistle and awarded a free-kick to Dublin. Kevin then made an attempt to retract his unfortunate slip-up later on The Sunday Game programme.

Let me remind Colm and other pundits that, as a team, we do take the opinions of assessors, managers and media pundits seriously on board and we use them to help improve our own performances. I can assure him that we are always in search of excellence.

Colm and Kevin indulged in unfair rants but that's only my opinion! Contrast this to the commentator on RTE radio who said, near the final whistle, that Cormac Reilly had a smashing game up to that crucial decision. Don't opinions differ?

I wouldn't want my thoughts on this matter, as expressed in the letter, to dull my admiration for Colm's past performances representing Meath on the field of play. If I was a gambling man, I would bet that he might even have benefited at some time in his playing career from what the pundits call a "soft free".

Can I also add that should the author of a nasty anonymous letter (addressed as coming from Co Leitrim and posted in Athlone and delivered to Cormac via the Meath County Board) be reading this letter, please be assured that it will be consigned to the shredder and suitably recycled. I know that Colm and Kevin would not condone such bitterness from any so-called GAA supporter and that they would condemn it outright.

Pat Lenehan

Glass half empty in Clarke coverage

I have never written to any newspaper before but I feel so annoyed and disgusted with your articles in July 24's issue about Darren Clarke's win in The Open last week. All your reporters mentioned were his celebratory drinks and 'hedonism'.

Little was mentioned of his play on the golf course where 150-plus golfers started on Thursday and he alone came up trumps despite the weather etc. As we all know from his amateur days, he was a very good golfer and has continued into his professional career. Surely he is entitled to celebrate without the media showing pictures of him with drink but of course this is what you think your readers want to see.

I have never before seen this with any Major winners. No comment was made about Tiger Woods' bad tempered behaviour or spitting on the course or his celebrations afterwards!

Just also to mention that never again will I buy your paper.

Anne Smyth

Ref spot-on with Donegal decisons

It's seven days since I stood on the town terrace in Clones after watching my beloved Donegal bridge a 19-year gap. I have spent the week reading, texting and googling opinions on the Ulster final.

The big talking points were the penalty that was and the penalty that wasn't. The Donegal penalty was too far away from me to judge on the day, but after one showing on The Sunday Game, I saw a correct decision was made. The goalkeeper led with his foot.

Neil McGee's ball collection and shoulder-to-shoulder tackle to me was the highlight of the game and I didn't realise till that evening that there was a penalty claim.

Thanks to George Hook I have Sky Plus, and I have paused both penalty claims at the point of contact. It's a no-brainer: the referee was correct in both cases.

If the referee had made a wrong decision on either incident I could live with that, but to see high-profile pundits having the afternoon to review and review both plays before facing The Sunday Game cameras and still get it wrong is staggering to believe.

I congratulate Tommy Conlon for putting in print what I saw [July 24]. It was Roy Walker at his best -- "say what you see".

Gabriel Gallagher

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