Saturday 25 November 2017

'Referees were told' to let water carriers on pitch

Ciaran Kilkenny was a water carrier in 2012 - referees have been under instruction to allow water carriers on to the field
Ciaran Kilkenny was a water carrier in 2012 - referees have been under instruction to allow water carriers on to the field
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Referees have been under instruction over the last two weekends to allow water carriers on to the field during breaks in play.

The confirmation comes after 'The Sunday Game' focused on an incident during the Clare-Wexford qualifier match in Thurles on Saturday night where referee Diarmuid Kirwan ordered off a 'maor uisce' as he was handing a water bottle to Wexford full-back Tomas Waters.

The background to the incident is not clear but the GAA's head of games administration and player welfare Fergal McGill confirmed that because of the warm weather the stipulation that players must come to the sideline to receive water has been relaxed.

"Water carriers can come on the field and dispense water during a break in play. Our referees have been told that over the last couple of weekends," he said.

The number of water carriers has been reduced from four to two since the start of the season but, because of the humid conditions over the last two weekends, the CCCC acknowledged that rules could be relaxed.

In the past, the number of water carriers has increased on warm days but it was felt that allowing freedom of movement during breaks in play for the carriers would be a sufficient compromise.

Kirwan also came in for criticism for allowing play to continue while Waters was lying on the ground injured with a suspected torn cruciate ligament. Wexford were behind and conceded two further points during the time that their full-back was being treated on the ground.

On 'The Sunday Game' analyst Donal Og Cusack, chairman of the Gaelic Players Association, said he was infuriated by the failure of the official to stop play and enquire about the player.

Referees are under instruction to keep play moving for less serious injuries, but Waters was clearly in a lot of distress.

When contacted last night, Wexford chairman Diarmuid Devereux said the matter was closed for them because they were out of the championship.

Wexford manager Liam Dunne touched on the issue after the game but said he was generally satisfied with Kirwan's refereeing.

Dunne is expected to be retained as Wexford manager despite completing a two-year term. He is eager to stay and the board are understood to be keen that he remains in charge, with a further two years in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, time statistics for Stephen Cluxton's kick-outs in Sunday's Leinster final against Meath were also produced by 'Sunday Game' football analyst Kevin McStay .

According to the clock, Cluxton took seven minutes and 54 seconds to take eight frees/'45s' from the time the free was awarded to the ball reaching its target. That amounted to an average of 68 seconds per kick.

In contrast Meath's Mickey Newman, who had a shorter distance to travel to line up his kicks, took 3.33 to take five frees, an average of 43 seconds.

However, a refereeing source contacted by the Irish Independent was keen to point out that in the case of one Cluxton kick there was a delay for injury, while for another there was a melee which had to be dealt with by the officials, driving up the times.

A similar measurement of time was taken for the football league final between Tyrone and Dublin in April when both goalkeepers, Cluxton and Niall Morgan, were on dead-ball duty.

Morgan took six kicks which ranged from 40 to 49 seconds, while Cluxton took one, taking 47 seconds for an average of just over 46 seconds per kick.

Referees do not add on time for the time that it takes to kick a free but do have the option of throwing up a ball if they feel that too much time is being taken.

There have been calls for legislation over time wasted by bringing goalkeepers up to take frees.

Irish Independent

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