Saturday 20 January 2018

Referees chief insists trial by TV is here to stay for GAA


NATIONAL Referees Committee chairman Mick Curley says his members have grown to accept that the controversial 'trial by TV' routine is here to stay.

Following a week that saw Kerry footballer Paul Galvin hit with a two-month suspension after highlighted television analysis of his clash with Eoin Cadogan, there have been calls for referees to be freed of the burden of retrospectively dealing with disciplinary incidents.

In the past few days former inter-county referee John Bannon criticised the load being placed by the Central Competitions Control Committee on his ex-colleagues and said that the CCCC should instead take sole responsibility for decisions taken after review.

Bannon was speaking from experience: in last year's All-Ireland semi-final with Tyrone he was asked to review an incident where Cork's John Miskella struck out at Brian McGuigan and was only yellow-carded. Footage was sent to him for review, but the Longford man stuck with his original decision, clearing Miskella to play in the final.

Such controversies are placing even greater pressure on match officials, who now frequently find themselves being asked to review incidents captured by TV cameras. As well as placing players under greater scrutiny, it also heaps even more responsibility on match officials.

But Curley says that the 'trial by media' system has been in full swing for a number of years and adds that his members have accepted the pressures that come with it.

"Media comment has always been a part of the GAA and it's a part of everyday modern life," he said. "In addition, there are some incidents that a referee won't clearly see. People have to understand that. Even if he happens to be close by there could be a bundle of players in his way, impinging his view.

"So the referees know that footage can later be sent to them for review and they accept that. They know their decisions come under scrutiny every Sunday evening and those are the pressures they have learned to deal with."

Curley added that he was more concerned that the general public were fully aware of the correct rules and regulations as a result of media analysis. "I'm not making a comment on any individual case, but I will say that it's imperative that anyone -- a pundit, journalist or broadcaster -- who makes a comment or highlights an issue must have a good, clear indication of the rules of our games. And that's not always been the case," he continued.

Further controversy emanated from last weekend's Cork/Kerry tussle when TV pundits reviewed Graham Canty's dismissal for an alleged trip on Colm Cooper. Footage suggested that Canty got a foot to the ball but took down Cooper on the follow through, which resulted in a dismissal that was criticised by some analysts.

But Curley's committee insist that the correct call was made on that clash and point out that while a sliding tackle is legal in soccer, it's outlawed in Gaelic football and is deemed a yellow-card offence.

Colm O'Rourke and Páidí ó Sé on Paul Galvin, Page 7

Sunday Independent

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