Sunday 25 February 2018

GAA powerless to stop Twitter ref attacks

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The issue of GAA players taking to their Twitter accounts to criticise referees is expected to be raised at a scheduled meeting of the refereeing inter-county panel tomorrow night.

For the second successive year, Longford referee Derek Fahy has found himself in the eye of a considerable cyberspace storm, as a number of Louth players took issue with his decision to send off Darren Clarke in the first half of their defeat to Westmeath in Mullingar on Saturday.

Clarke's dismissal reduced Louth to 13 men -- Mark Brennan had gone minutes earlier. Clarke had caught Doran Harte with a high tackle and then sought to pick his opponent up off the ground.

Fahy red-carded him but it appears that it was for the original tackle and not the attempt to lift the player up that prompted the card. After Cork's Noel O'Leary attempted to lift the injured Donal Vaughan off the ground in the league final last April, referees were instructed to punish that with a yellow card only.

Fahy's decision led to a storm of criticism, just a week after Benny Coulter was one of a number of Down players to deliver stinging criticism of Michael Duffy for his performance in the Ulster semi-final against Monaghan.

Fahy was also on the receiving end from Wexford players on Twitter after last year's fourth-round qualifier.

While referees may discuss the forum being used by players, they will be made aware that there is little the GAA can do about it. Only criticism which takes place as part of the match-day event can come to the attention of the Central Competition Controls Committee.

The GAA acknowledge they have no mechanism that would stand up to legal scrutiny to bring penalties against players who criticise on Twitter.

Referees will be digesting a difficult weekend for some of them in the 11 football matches -- three provincial semi-finals and eight qualifiers.

Referee Michael Collins made clear mistakes in the build-up to the Meath goal that catapulted the Royals to the front at a critical time on Sunday. His decision to blow for half-time just as Cian Ward was shooting for a point may also come under the spotlight.

Duffy was also under fire for disallowing a late Derry goal from Joe Diver, but it appears that the referee got that call right.

Last week, national referees chairman Pat McEnaney spoke on behalf of Duffy and said the official had admitted he got it wrong in allowing a Monaghan goal to stand. McEnaney was not available for comment yesterday on any of the weekend performances.

Irish Independent

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