Monday 17 June 2019

Inter-county football now needs two referees - Fitzmaurice

Former Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Former Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

The dust has barely settled on Eamonn Fitzmaurice's six-year reign as Kerry senior football boss, but the All-Ireland-winning manager has already offered his suggestions on how improve the game, writes Michael Verney.

Fitzmaurice resigned in the wake of the Kingdom's disappointing exit at the group stages of the 'Super 8s' and key refereeing decisions costing teams games has always been a big gripe of his.

While acknowledging that his Kerry side were on the receiving end of some lucky decisions en route to lifting Sam Maguire in 2014 Fitzmaurice also feels two changes could significantly ease the pressure on referees.

"I think the game needs two referees," he told 'Off The Ball AM' yesterday.

"Referees need help. The game has become so quick and there is so much going on off the ball. I think we need a second referee.

"I know the minute that's mooted the GAA say, 'Oh, we've two linesmen on either side of him' but the linesmen can only give a certain amount of help. But often times, what's forgotten, is they're rivals of the referee other than on match-day.

"They want to be inside in the middle themselves. If a fella is out in the middle of the field and he's making a bit of a hash of the game. It would be human for the fellas on the side to be saying, 'Jesus, I might have a better chance of getting a big game down the line'.

With an increase in off the ball incidents at inter-county level, the former Kerry centre-back feels inside information provided by recently-retired inter-county players or former managers would be an invaluable aid to officials.

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"The other thing that I think referees need a hand with, they are behind the curve a bit when it comes to the dark arts as it's called," Fitzmaurice added.

"If I was involved with the referee's committee, what I would love to see is two recently-retired players or two recently retired managers - not myself I'm definitely not putting myself forward for that job - in with referees to advise them on what is going on.

"The reason I say two, because if one is there, the other has to leave the room. To help the referees. I think you'll get to the point of cleaning up the game and getting the decisions right because there are too many games where the big decisions are gotten wrong.

"So many people put so much time into it at an amateur level, I think those decisions do need to be gotten right. It's just fair. All you want is a level playing field. When I was in charge in 2014 we got breaks but in other years we certainly didn't get breaks.

"The argument is that it balances up over a season but it doesn't really. I would prefer that it was balanced full stop. It's a fact that referees get things wrong and it can cost you big."

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