Flynn hits out at 'fussy' referees
IF this summer has been pockmarked with shocks in the championship, it has also been dominated by some high-profile refereeing controversies.
And Meath legend Bernard Flynn insists that Westmeath were the latest side to fall victim to some contentious calls going the way of the 'big teams' in Sunday's narrow qualifier defeat to Kerry in Mullingar.
Such complaints have been a recurring trend this season. Clare boss Davy Fitzgerald made a similar claim after his side lost to Kilkenny in the NHL semi-final in the spring, while Dominic Corrigan echoed those sentiments.
Flynn believes Westmeath might still be in the championship had some important calls gone their way.
"There were about four crucial decisions I'd seen that were game-breakers and turning points there," argued the double All-Ireland winner.
Flynn singled out Fermanagh whistler Martin Higgins' decision to award a free in to Kerry after Ronan Foley was pulled for steps in the second half.
Colm 'Gooch' Cooper took the free quickly from the wrong spot to set Darran O'Sullivan away for the game's crucial goal that cut the gap to three and gave the Kingdom the impetus to squeeze through.
"It was no free, absolutely no free," insisted Flynn, who won Westmeath county championships with Mullingar Shamrocks during his playing career.
"There were two other frees that he never gave when Westmeath forwards were fouled inside at a crucial time when it was level.
"There were about four or five of them. I thought it was a travesty. They probably should have won it -- it would have been great for them.
"The referee had a lot to answer for with four or five crucial calls.
"I just thought overall he was too fussy, but the biggest scandal was with the crucial decisions, with Westmeath at the wrong end of them.
"None of the key calls went against Kerry in the second half. I think that was the difference."
Earlier this summer, Sligo referee Michael Duffy admitted his error when allowing Monaghan's goal to stand despite calling over a Down player to book him.
On the first weekend in June, three incidents of striking were dealt with in three different ways. Longford's Paul Barden escaped with a yellow card for a coming together with Brian Malone from Wexford, while Femanagh's Daryl Keenan was given a straight red for striking Down's Conor Laverty in their Ulster championship clash.
In the same game, Down's Aidan Brannigan escaped censure after a strike on Marty McGrath, though he was hit with a ban retrospectively.
"I just think the standard of refereeing is very poor," said Flynn.
"The biggest problem is fussy refereeing. Fellas can't even go for a ball. There are fellas who challenged honestly (in Mullingar) and one hit off the other and there were 10 or 12 frees that should have been let go and let the boys fight for the ball.
"That's the biggest problem -- fussy referees. We're seeing 60 frees plus in games and it's just crazy."