Sunday 21 January 2018

'Fans should read the rules as most just don't get them' - Top referee Brian Gavin

Referees Maurice Deegan, Brian Gavin and Conor Lane at the launch of The Referee's Handbook at Croke Park
Referees Maurice Deegan, Brian Gavin and Conor Lane at the launch of The Referee's Handbook at Croke Park
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

All-Ireland hurling final referee Brian Gavin believes that some of the stakeholders have a "terrible lack of understanding" of the playing rules of Gaelic games.

Speaking at a media briefing organised to communicate the specifics of the new 'mark' rule in football and the launch of the new Referee Handbook, the Offaly whistler claimed that on some occasions even players and managers aren't up to speed on the rules of the game.

"Even though there are media launches every time there is a rule change, people still don't seem to grasp it," he said.

"It is amazing being at football matches. I was at the All-Ireland final replay this year and I heard people around me shouting for black cards. You'd just wonder what planet they are on," Gavin added.

"There is a terrible lack of understanding of the rules, even from players, would you believe, and managers at times.

"If everyone gets the (referee) handbook and goes through it, it would be a big help.


"The lack of knowledge out there from some players, but mostly supporters, is frightening. When I go to a match and am sitting down in the stand, I hear these shouts.

"It is disappointing, because you would think that people would have a better understanding of rules, but they just don't."

Meanwhile, top football referee Maurice Deegan, who took charge of that Mayo-Dublin All-Ireland final replay earlier this year, revealed that he actively avoids all media outlets in the build-up to big games he's in charge of on the basis that it's "unfair" to the parties involved.

"I'm delighted you're after asking that question - for the simple reason I read nothing, I look at nothing, I listen to nothing beforehand," the straight-talking Laois referee said.

"You're only human. You will be influenced one way or another (if you do read it).

"I didn't know there was any big rivalry going on or anything being written about Lee Keegan and Diarmuid Connolly before the football final replay."

Deegan believes that it's more important than ever for referees to be mentally strong in big games.

"It is very hard (to hide from the build-up). You have to be very strong mentally," he said strong.

"Personally, if I believe I'm right in my actions, then I'm happy enough. It's all about being mentally strong.

"Looking down the road a bit, we're looking to get referees involved in psychology and that type of thing. There's the rules and fitness and that type of thing, but the mental side of things is hugely important."

Deegan went on to defend the under-fire black card, insisting it has helped improve the game and eradicate the body collide.

"I think it's very positive," he said. "It has cleaned up the game. Let's be honest, the body collide is gone. That was a serious thing in the game, players being taken out of it altogether.

"There are inconsistencies within the black card with referees and that's something that we have to work on, like the pull-down, the hand-trip - all those type of things. They just have to be looked at and it's up to us to fine-tune it."

Chairman of the National Referees' Committee and GAA presidential hopeful Seán Walsh insisted the sanction is "here to stay", but agreed it needs to be applied in a more consistent way.

"The problem with the black card is, and I have been consistent in saying this, that it's the inconsistency we have with refereeing games in relation to it," said Walsh, who also warned players will be shown a black card for remonstrating with referees in 2017.

"I've no problem in saying that as chairman of the referees, and the referees themselves have discussed it all through the summer.

"Our task from the first National League game of this year is to make sure to try to, if at all possible, eradicate the inconsistency in relation to the use of the black card."

Irish Independent

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