Thursday 22 February 2018

Leinster final chaos presents perfect chance to revamp umpire selection

Eamonn O'Hara

LAST Sunday week's events in Croke Park provide the GAA with the perfect opportunity to revamp the way match-day officials are selected. In the championship, the linesmen are usually established inter-county referees, so why should the umpires be any different?

It's the perfect opportunity to blood up-and-coming referees and give them a first-hand view of what to expect when they officiate a high-profile, high-intensity game of their own. If players can get overwhelmed by a big occasion and a big crowd, then so can officials.

Last week's drama dragged on and it wasn't beneficial to either team. You'd feel sorry for Louth to lose in such a way and it wasn't right what happened to them but, unfortunately, that's the way sport is sometimes. Talk of a replay was wide of the mark because you could start an avalanche of appeals. For example, Galway might have wanted us to relay the Connacht semi-final after our late disputed point, and appeals like that would send the inter-county and club championships into chaos.

If we had lost yesterday's final in that way, well, we'd be sickened but I'd like to think we'd get on with it. Equally, if we had won in similar circumstances to Meath, you'd take what you were given because it won't be too long before something blatant goes against you.

Meath were left in an unenviable position too. Croke Park needed to take control of that situation instead of effectively leaving it to the Meath panel and county board. In the end, they were the ones that made the gutsy decision which was the only one that could be taken.

Irish Independent

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