Assessors praise refs
DESPITE widespread criticisms of how referees interpreted the new handpass regulations last Sunday, they have received a ringing endorsement from the authorities, writes Martin Breheny.
It's understood that Gearoid O Conamha (Galway), Maurice Deegan (Laois) and David Coldrick (Meath) all received high marks from their assessors. The trio were first into the line of managerial fire, but the assessors decided that they were merely applying the rules as laid down and received very good ratings.
That encompasses all aspects of the game, including their approach to the issuing of yellow and red cards. O Conamha showed 16 yellow and three red cards in the Carlow-Wicklow game; Deegan waved 10 yellow and one red in Armagh v Derry, while Coldrick flashed 10 yellow and no red in Kerry v Tipperary.
However, the assessors decided that the referees were within their rights, even if an average of 12 yellow cards per game appears high. The assessors -- mostly drawn from ex-referees -- decided that the complaints from managers over alleged misapplication of the new handpass rule were, in the main, unwarranted.
It now remains to be seen if the extensive media coverage of the handpass controversies leads to less friction between players and referees in tomorrow's four SFC games. Pat McEnaney (Antrim v Tyrone), Derek Fahy (Meath v Offaly), Pat Fox (Louth v Longford) and Aidan Mangan (Clare v Waterford) are the four referees in the spotlight.
Fahy and McEnaney, who have very different styles of refereeing will be in charge of the two live TV games on RTE2.
Fahy would be regarded as a being a stickler for detail, while McEnaney adopts a more liberal approach.
Meanwhile, Croke Park remains convinced that the furore over the handpass will die down quickly once players adapt to the new rule. However, there is concern over the high number of yellow cards, although history shows that there's usually a drop-off once the championship gets into full swing.