Monday 22 July 2019

'Referee mistakes can cost you big' - Eamonn Fitzmaurice on the two changes the GAA can make to improve the elite game

Eamonn Fitzmaurice
Eamonn Fitzmaurice Newsdesk Newsdesk

Former Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice has outlined two possible rule changes that could ease the pressure on referees and cut out the number of bad calls in games.

Fitzmaurice that his side had benefited from decisions in their run to their All-Ireland triumph in 2014 but were on the receiving end on other occasions and doesn't believe that it balances out over a season.

Fitzmaurice stepped down from his role with the Kingdom after their failure to advance from their Super 8 group following defeat to Galway and a draw with Monaghan in Clones.

He leaves having won an All-Ireland title in 2014, six provincial titles and a national league crown in 2017.

Speaking to Off The Ball AM, the former Kerry centre-back was asked what changes he would make to improve gaelic football at inter-county level.

A second referee and insider knowledge for officials on the 'dark arts' of the game were his suggestions.

"For me, at the elite level anyway, I don't think it would work at grassroots level, I think the game needs two referees," he said.

"Referees need help. The game has become so quick and there is so much going on off the ball. By the way, I'm not saying we're whiter than white in that regard, we're not. You push the limits to whatever you have to do yourself.

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"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 give a certain amount of help but often times, what's forgotten, is they're rivals of the referee other than on matchday. 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'.

"I genuinely think that we need a second ref. We could embrace technology a bit more but that probably won't happen in my lifetime.

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

"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 the 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 decisons are got wrong. So many people put so much time into it at an amateur level, I think those decisions do need to be got 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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