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Limerick 'point' highlights need for video referee

ANOTHER big refereeing controversy will ruin one of the remaining big games of the summer, predicted Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney yesterday on foot of Wexford's controversial exit from the football championship.

Jason Ryan's side were knocked out of the qualifiers by a hotly debated last-minute Limerick free which referee Derek Fahy decided was a point, despite one of his umpires waving it wide.

Television replays were not conclusive, but McGeeney believes such controversies will continue to mar big games unless the GAA at least tries to use video technology, or some form of third-party arbitration, to give match officials some help on such occasions.

"There have been 10 to date -- it's a cert, an absolute cert that it's going to happen again and it's tough," he said.

"You saw emotions run high with the Wexford goalkeeper (Anthony Masterson, right) and you can't blame him. I don't blame the referee either -- it's a tough call to make.

"It is obvious that in most of the situations you could do it with a third referee or a TV referee.

"Okay, it doesn't suit for all incidents, but for some of the major decisions I definitely think we can come up with something better.

"We have seven people supposedly officiating at games, eight if you count the touchline official, and we're still struggling!"

McGeeney said game-deciding errors are particularly frustrating for the protagonists considering the amount of scrutiny that team officials now find themselves under.

"I know I'm probably doing myself no favours, but if you can count the amount of times a water carrier crossed the line, or the amount of time a maor foirne (team official) is on the pitch, or the amount of time a selector stands up when he shouldn't, then surely we can tell if a ball is kicked over the bar?

"I've nothing against referees, even though it seems to come across like that -- it's our rules!" McGeeney said, singling out Derry's disallowed 'square ball' goal against Kildare last weekend as another example of the GAA's ongoing problems.

"We had a (square ball) system last year that was a better rule and changed it. If you can't apply a rule, or implement it, then what's the point of having it?

"They need to introduce rules that help the game, not hinder it. Everybody agrees that consistency of refereeing, the tackle and the stop-start nature of the game are the three biggest things that people find difficult in the GAA, but the rules we introduce seem to make those three things more prevalent.

"Everyone keeps quoting to me ad nauseam that there is a tackle there, but watch any game of Gaelic football and see the amount of pushes, pulls, touches, all that sort of stuff. Technically those are free-kicks, but referees say, 'if I blow that up every time, there'll be 35 free-kicks'.

"If that's the case then they're refereeing by common sense and everybody's common sense is different.

"It's tough on referees. I do give out about them, but I feel for them. I know what it's like to try to coach it (the tackle in football), so what is it like to try to implement it? They are doing the best they can."

Irish Independent