Joe McQuillan: I told Mayo's players three times . . . 'there's 30 seconds left'
ALL-IRELAND final referee Joe McQuillan has cleared up the question of how much additional time he played at the end of Sunday's match and exactly what he said to Cillian O'Connor, revealing: "I said 'there's 30 seconds left'."
Mayo needed a goal in the dying minutes of injury-time when O'Connor stepped up for a free which he put over the bar.
The beaten finalists said he had opted to take the point because the referee had told him "that there's at least 30 seconds left after the score," according to manager James Horan.
But McQuillan has clarified to the Irish Independent exactly what he said.
"There was absolutely no suggestion that it would be after the kick-out or anything like that," the Cavan official said. "I simply said 'there's 30 seconds left' and that was from the moment he asked me.
"I said it three times, I'm sure plenty of players heard me and I was on an open mic to all my match officials, including Dickie Murphy who was the overseer on Hawk-Eye, so all of those can confirm what I said," McQuillan added.
"Immediately after the game some Mayo players said to me that 'you said there was going to be another play', but I never said that because there is no such thing as that.
"I can't tell a player to go for goal or anything like that, I can only tell him how much time was left and that is exactly what I did."
"If the ball had gone out for a '45' I would have had to allow that to be played, but otherwise there was 30 seconds left on the clock.
"The player (O'Connor) took some time to take the free and when I blew the final whistle there was 74 minutes and 39 seconds on my stopwatch."
Referees chief Pat McEnaney backed McQuillan, saying he did nothing wrong and that any issues Mayo had with the timekeeping at the end of the match were of their own making.
"The referee had added four minutes, everyone knew that, we were all looking at the clock and could see it and he blew it up a bit after 74 minutes," McEnaney said.
"The only delay that I could see was the Mayo player taking so much time over his last two frees, I think he took over 40 seconds to take one of them."
"That's got nothing to do with the referee. People like to put pressure back on the referee when things go wrong but Joe McQuillan did his job properly," he added.
The clock was at 71:40 when Mayo were awarded their penultimate free when Colm Boyle was fouled. By the time he got up off the ground and O'Connor struck it, the clock read 72:17, a delay of 37 seconds.
When Enda Varley was fouled for Mayo's last free the clock read 73:27. O'Connor spoke to the referee at 73:50 but it was 74:10 when he struck the ball, 43 seconds after it was awarded.
The GAA is bringing in a public countdown clock and buzzer system for championship games next year which should help everyone – players and fans – to see exactly how much time is left.
The Ladies Gaelic Football Association has successfully operated a countdown clock and buzzer system for many years.
The referee signals for the clock to stop and start to account for stoppages like injuries and substitutions and it proved its worth in the dramatic finish to this summer's All-Ireland intermediate semi-final between Tipperary and Fermanagh.
Tipperary were trailing by four points with 48 seconds remaining but, thanks to subsequent stoppages, managed to score 1-2 in the remaining time. The winning kick was in the air and hadn't gone over the posts when the hooter went off.
But because it was kicked before the hooter sounded the score stood and there was no confusion or controversy about the timekeeping.