Tuesday 16 January 2018

Harte calls on GAA to share ref assessments

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Mickey Harte has called on the GAA to operate their system of assessing referees in a much more transparent fashion.

The Tyrone manager wants the assessment of referees to be made public so that teams and managements can learn from what they are doing wrong and consequently what they are doing right.

He believes that would help to eradicate what he feels has become a creeping inconsistency in the way the playing rules are being applied.

Harte was critical of Longford referee Derek Fahy after Sunday's draw with Meath in Navan and went on the offensive yesterday, with his description of the process as "insular".

"It is a long-standing problem and I think the whole thing is a bit insular," he said. "Who are these people who are assessing? They refereed themselves and they are judging others who are refereeing. I don't think they are consulting widely enough about what makes a good referee.

"They pay lip service to it every now and again when they have a so-called talk shop about it. I think there needs to be something very structured. We don't know how the referee performed on Sunday or how he was assessed as having performed.

"We can make our own assessments and judgments, but we have nothing to compare it to with regards to official assessments.


"I think if we did see what we think we saw with our eyes and some of the difficulties we saw, maybe some of the good points we saw, would that not be good to be shared with those who are ticking the boxes? Would that not make for a better assessment overall?" he asked.

The GAA have not been keen in the past to make these assessments public knowledge, but they have defended the system and feel they have gained a lot from it since it came into operation.

Harte believes "clarity" could be introduced with publication.

"We would know what mark a referee got and why he got it," he said. "Then you would be able to judge for yourself, you would be able to say, 'that makes sense' or, 'I'm surprised at that'. I think it would keep everyone more honest.

"At the minute, there are inconsistencies happening now that aren't to do with on-the-spot decisions like I referred to on Sunday. They aren't difficult decisions to make -- whether you throw a ball up when someone retaliates or not.

"These things can't be right -- it happened the week before in Dungannon when there was a completely different interpretation of the same incident.

"That's not rocket science -- that should be consistent. Some things are difficult for everyone to get right, but those things shouldn't be."

As Harte looked ahead to his ninth championship campaign with Tyrone he has once again questioned the imbalance of the system that denies provincial champions the second chance given to every other beaten championship team.

"It's a mistake. It's a gross injustice," he said. "Dublin were the victim to it for so many years, we fell victim to it a few times. It makes no sense in the championship when you have four teams who have equal status as the provincial champions.

"It doesn't make sense at all and it means that you are devaluing your provincial championship because someone can sail into a similar position without winning any championship at all and that's not right."

Harte has already outlined a system that could work but there are no motions from his own county or from Dublin at Congress this weekend and that disappoints him.

"I think the provincial championships would be taken a lot more seriously (if the system was applied). It would be far more important to be winning your provincial title and there would be far more bonuses than there are at the moment. It's almost a disadvantage to win your provincial championship."

But his views will not colour Tyrone's approach to defending their Ulster championship title, he insists.

"We still want to win it, it's important and it's nice. When you look back it will say how many Ulster titles you won and it won't say how many qualifiers you won or how many times you made the last four or eight. That will not be recorded anywhere of significance, but who won the Ulster title will be."

Meanwhile, Derry football boss John Brennan was highly critical of referee Padraig Hughes last weekend when Conleth Gilligan and Antrim's Aaron Douglas were both sent off, on straight reds, for a tussle in the final minute.

Hughes showed five yellow cards and two reds in the game and had previously sent off Antrim's Mark Sweeney for a second yellow on the advice of one of his linesmen.

"The Antrim man (Sweeney) did not deserve to be sent off and that was reinforced by those two fellas (Gilligan and Douglas)," Brennan fumed. "What did they do? A wrestling match, nobody hurt and then he blows the full-time whistle."

Irish Independent

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