Football referees hauled in for emergency meeting
Officials under pressure to prevent further black card controversy after high-profile flashpoints
The top football referees in the country have been called to an emergency meeting tomorrow night to discuss the major issues that have cropped up over the first two weekends of the championships.
The 16-member grade-one panel have been summoned to an unplanned meeting at Croke Park amid concern over the way these issues have been dealt with in the opening rounds.
With the onset of the black card, the most experienced referees were pressed into action early, but even they have found themselves challenged by new interpretations.
All three major Ulster championship matches have contained controversy around the work of the top football officials, and referee chiefs want to address the matter urgently.
David Coldrick failed to show a black card to Down's Conor Maginn in the opening half of their drawn match in Omagh for hauling down Mark Donnelly. A penalty was given instead of advantage being allowed and Peter Harte scored, but Maginn later scored an important goal to accelerate Down's second-half recovery.
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte suggested afterwards that there was no consistency between the rules applied in the league and championship.
On the same afternoon, Offaly full-back David Hanlon was first shown a yellow card for striking Longford's Brian Kavanagh at Pearse Park, but this was subsequently upgraded to red after further consultation with another linesman by referee Martin Higgins. The right call was made, but technically this is not allowed because the incident was already deemed to have been dealt with.
In last Saturday's replay, a penalty was awarded to Tyrone by referee Cormac Reilly for Kevin McKernan's contact with Ronan McNabb – which Peter Harte scored for an eight-point lead to close out the game. But the ball had already spilled from McNabb's grasp when the contact, which was minimal, was made.
On Sunday, Joe McQuillan failed to show a red card after James Kielt had picked up a black card on top of a yellow and while it was incidental (Derry already had six substitutes used), referee chiefs are keen to stress the importance of getting such fundamentals right.
McQuillan overlooked a potential black card for Derry's Patsy Bradley, who tripped Odhran Mac Niallais, because it was deemed not deliberate. But the dearth of yellow cards shown in the game may also be addressed.