McEnaney calls for changes to discipline set-up
THE GAA's disciplinary system takes too long to process through the various stages according to top football referee Pat McEnaney, who would support the introduction of a rapid-fire case-to-conclusion format.
"I would have it like rugby. The match is played today, a committee looks at it tomorrow and if action is required on an incident it's downgraded or upgraded immediately. Then, give the player a right to appeal -- end of story," he said.
"That way, everything is clinical and clear. We should cut out some of the layers. Every player should have the right to appeal against a decision, but it should be all done in the space of four or five days."
Under the current system, the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) makes an adjudication which a player can accept or reject. If it's rejected, he can take his case before a hearings' committee and if that goes against him he can try again before an appeals' committee. And if he's still not satisfied, he can bring it before the Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA).
It can often take weeks to go through the various stages, leading to frustration for the player and on-going negative publicity for the GAA. Under McEnaney's proposal, a player could only make his case once.
McEnaney is also opposed to the CCCC asking referees to revisit decisions they have made a day earlier. That has proved quite contentious with some referees who believe that when they adjudicate on an incident, they should not be asked to re-examine it on video.
"We are probably the only sport in the world that goes back to a referee to ask does he have a second opinion. John Bannon (former referee) has a motion in from the Longford County Board asking for this to be changed and I'm certainly supporting it," McEnaney said.
He acknowledged that he was asked to revisit an incident from last month's Derry-Tyrone National League game which led to the suspension of four players, but pointed out that he will apply the rules as they stand at any given time.
"That doesn't mean I agree with them. I know what people expect of me at Croke Park. I like to think that I act with a lot of dignity and respect at all times. Whatever rules are there, I'll apply them," he said.
He accepts that Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has "a slight argument" in his opposition to revisiting videos of games that are featured on television. Harte contends that it's discriminatory as it only applies to a small minority of leading counties whose games are shown regularly on television.
McEnaney also expressed clear views on the experimental rules which are being currently on trial. He supports the move away from hand-passing to fist-passing but would have preferred if the 'mark' was based purely on the Australian Rules model.
"I was disappointed that we didn't run with the full Australian 'mark' and get it over and done with once and for all. There is too much pressure on the referee with the mark as it stands," he said.
It's up to the referee to decide whether a player can play the ball away immediately or stop before making his delivery.
"The decision should rest with the player. Things would work better if that were the case," he added.
He disagrees with claims that the GAA are meddling excessively with playing rules and believes that many of the more recent changes have been beneficial.
He points to the quick free out of the hands, the introduction of yellow and red cards and the use of a kicking tee as examples of changes which have worked well.
"If you're not looking to the future and freshening things up, you're going to be left behind," he said.
However, he is vehemently opposed to the concept of having two referees, as applies in the International Rules game.
"I wouldn't like it at all in our own game. At least if players have one inconsistent ref on the field they know it will be the same at both ends! Two referees would only lead to confusion. To be honest, I think players would be far happier with one referee," he said.