Monday 23 October 2017

Bannon calls on the CCCC to take review burden off referees

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Former referee John Bannon has again called into question the method of retrospectively suspending players that the GAA continues to adopt.

He has criticised the burden being placed by the CCCC on individual referees and believes that the disciplinary body should take all responsibility for decisions taken after reviewing incidents.

He has also suggested that they meet every Monday to cut out the "secrecy" involved in how they go about their business.

Acknowledging the right of the individual to find out first, Bannon still feels that business has to be done much more quickly than it currently is. "Everything about this process should be transparent, to cut out the level of secrecy involved," he said.

Bannon, through his club Legan Sarsfields in Longford, framed a motion to Congress last April calling for the practice of asking referees to review incidents -- which was triggered by the failed attempt to suspend Ryan McMenamin and Paul McGrane after the tempestuous 2005 Ulster final replay in Croke Park -- to be scrapped.

But the motion failed with two prominent figures involved in reshaping the disciplinary process in recent years, Cork county secretary Frank Murphy and former DRA secretary Liam Keane, now chairman of the CHC, speaking against it.

"Some part of me feels that the CCCC don't want to make the decisions themselves. I brought that motion, which ultimately failed, to Congress because it is something I feel strongly about."

Bannon was asked to review an incident in last year's All-Ireland semi-final when Cork's John Miskella struck out at Tyrone's Brian McGuigan and was only yellow-carded. Bannon replied that he was satisfied with the decision he made and therefore Miskella was cleared to play in the final.

"It was easy for me to make that decision. I was placed with the responsibility of deciding whether a player can play in an All-Ireland final or not. There is a human element to this. I was retiring from refereeing anyway, so I chose not to clear the way for an upgrade."

Bannon said Pat McEnaney has been placed in a similar position but is "old enough and wise enough" to make his own decision on the Paul Galvin incident with Eoin Cadogan last Sunday.

The Longford man has no intention of revisiting the motion next year and, given the lack of support it got in Newcastle, he doesn't expect the system will change. "Most referees don't agree with it, most are not comfortable with it, but that's the system and they must run with it," he says.

Bannon says the review of incidents by video is unavoidable as it happens across a wide variety of sports. "If you look at rugby or cricket there is the ability to slow everything down. The GAA are obviously going to use all resources available to them, but the responsibility should be on the committee in charge once the game is over, not the referee who is the focus of attention for a few days afterwards," Bannon continues.

"I know of incidents already this year where counties have been left wondering about a player for up to three to four days after a game and whether or not he is going to face a retrospective charge or not."


Referees know they are under pressure to agree with the suggestion of the CCCC that certain incidents require review and if they don't 'play ball' they risk the prospect of getting fewer games. Bannon said it was inevitable that this was on every referee's mind.

McEnaney will be forced to retire anyway at the end of next season once he passes the age of 50 which has been introduced as the cut-off point for inter-county referees.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has been critical of the use of video evidence to suspend players and earlier this year there was the brief threat that Tyrone County Board would prevent TV cameras from televising their games.

That threat was withdrawn, but Harte remains firm in his belief that unless all games are going to be reviewed with the same rigour, the system as it is remains unfair.

Last year GAA Director General Paraic Duffy suggested, in his annual report, that the Association could look at appointing a full-time citing commissioner, as proposed by Dr Jack Anderson, a Belfast lawyer who was a member of the Disputes Resolution Authority. The position would support referees, but nothing has come of it since.

Irish Independent

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