New rules produce major controversy
THE experimental rule covering when a referee can blow for half-time or full-time has produced its first major controversy, leaving the GAA facing a challenge to the result of Saturday's Longford-Limerick Division 4 NFL clash in Pearse Park.
Longford, who lost on a 1-8 to 0-9 scoreline, are demanding that they be declared the winners after having what would have been the match-winning goal in the final seconds controversially disallowed.
Westmeath referee Sean Carroll ruled out Seamus Hannon's goal after Francis McGee's drive for goal from a free was blocked. Hannon booted the ball to the net in the ensuing scramble for a goal which would have put Longford a point ahead. However, the referee disallowed it, apparently on the basis that the game had ended once the free-kick was blocked.
Under the experimental rules, the ball must go out of play before the referee can signal the end of either half.
Longford last night sent an e-mail to the Central Competitions Control Committee contesting the result and demanding that they be declared the winners. Failing that, they will be asking that the game be refixed.
Longford County Board chairman, Pat Cahill said that the referee admitted he had made a mistake and argues that, in the interest of fairness, the result should not stand.
"I know Sean (Carroll) well and accept that he made a genuine mistake. It can happen anyone but we believe that it would be very unfair if Longford lost a game on the basis of a clear-cut mistake. Seamus (Hannon) booted the ball to the net in a flash after Francie (McGee) had his shot blocked so, under the experimental rules, it was a perfectly good goal.
"Losing those two league point would have disastrous consequences on our campaign. We lost to Carlow in the opening round but would have got right back in the promotion race if we won on Saturday. As far as we're concerned, we did win but the final result doesn't show that," said Cahill.
Confusion over when the game should actually end also emerged in yesterday's O'Byrne Cup game with Louth, who lost to DCU by a point, complaining that the final whistle sounded while the ball was still in play.
However, Longford's case is far more serious as Saturday's defeat has severely damaged their prospects of mounting a promotion drive.