Tuesday 21 November 2017

McEnaney urges players to tone down ref criticism

Pat McEnaney. Photo: Sportsfile
Pat McEnaney. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Referees' chief Pat McEnaney has called on inter-county players to refine the language they use in criticising referees, whatever the forum they choose to make the comments in.

He has urged the same language to be applied to referees that is applied to players and managers when poor performances are being discussed.

McEnaney's appeal comes as a number of Down players took to their Twitter accounts to express their disapproval with the performance of Michael Duffy in Sunday's Ulster semi-final win over Monaghan.

Down won, but Duffy hasn't escaped a blizzard of criticism from some of their players. It was reminiscent of the reaction of Wexford players to referee Derek Fahy's decision to award a late free to Limerick in last year's fourth-round qualifier in Portlaoise. Ian Ryan converted to win the match but only after Fahy had discussed its flight path with an umpire who initially felt it was wide.

Wexford players were adamant that it had been wide and vented their fury on Twitter in the following days.

The GAA have no mechanism to discipline players for what they say on Twitter, but it led to social media guidelines being issued to all members and a conversation on the issue between senior GAA officials and the Gaelic Players Association.

Wexford goalkeeper Anthony Masterson was advised by the Central Competitions Controls Committee (CCCC) to apologise to Fahy for comments he made in a TV interview in the aftermath of the defeat.

Benny Coulter was among the more prominent voices encouraging the GAA to "take a hard look at what went on yesterday! Players put in to much work for that to happen.disgusted," he tweeted.

McEnaney said he wasn't being specific in asking players to consider the words they use more carefully.

"Some of it is unfair and I think unacceptable. Players should use the same language about referees that applies to them when performances are being discussed," he said.

McEnaney said Duffy had accepted he was wrong to allow Tommy Freeman's goal to stand in the 57th minute of the Ulster semi-final, which gave them a four-point cushion.

Duffy had blown for a free and beckoned Down full-back Brendan McArdle towards him to show him a yellow card when Conor McManus took a quick free to Freeman, who finished superbly.

McEnaney said last night that Duffy had "held his hand up".

"I've been speaking to Michael and he is quite happy for it to be known that he got it wrong. We've been trying to encourage the use of an advantage, we've been trying to allow teams the use of a quick free more," said McEnaney.

"But on this occasion he had gestured to the player to come to him and he was going to book him. The player had a right to set himself up in a defensive position. He should have stopped the play."

McEnaney also accepted that if the free did not travel 13 metres then it should have been addressed.

"I don't think Michael has a problem holding his hand up on either front. But I will add this. He was the referee who got us off to a very good start in the first round of the Leinster championship in Longford with a correct call on a square ball."

Duffy appeared to have got two penalty decisions right, the decision to award Down one in the first half after Conor Laverty was fouled and a decision not to penalise Karl O'Connell for a challenge on Conor Garvey.

Garvey must wait to see if he will be pursued by the CCCC for contact he made with his boot on O'Connell's back in the aftermath of that incident.

Irish Independent

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