Thursday 14 December 2017

Ryan backs under-fire referees

Referee James McGrath came under verbal fire from Clare after their Munster semi-final defeat to Cork. Photo: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Referee James McGrath came under verbal fire from Clare after their Munster semi-final defeat to Cork. Photo: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Not one but two inter-county managers have come out in support of referees who have been under siege this summer.

The difficulties of policing the new football rules were thrown into the limelight again last weekend in the Ulster SFC quarter-final between Monaghan and Tyrone.

And hurling referee James McGrath also came under verbal fire from Clare after they lost to Cork in the Munster semi-final.

But football managers Jason Ryan (Kildare) and Jim Gavin (Dublin) have both reiterated their belief that there's nothing wrong with the GAA's rules and that people should stop blaming referees for their problems.

Ryan said that GAA refs are being judged by too harsh a standard.

"We speak about how impressive our players are as amateurs and how they perform, but I think our officials – it has to be remembered – are also amateurs," the Kildare boss said.

"We're comparing them to professional officials in the World Cup or whatnot, in soccer and in rugby. I'd be very much (of the view that) our referees need plenty of support, and support from the organisation as well."

He said that pressure on referees could turn people off taking it up, which would affect the quality available.

"In team sports you talk about competition improving the quality of the team. It's the same with referees and we want a pool of as many referees as possible," he said.

"If you've a lot of competition for guys to make that championship panel (of referees), it raises the standard of everybody."

Ryan has also reiterated his belief that "the principle of the black card is spot-on" and Dublin manager Jim Gavin agrees.

"If there was no cynical play, there'd be no black cards and we wouldn't have this controversy," Gavin said.

"I think as managers and players, we all have to take responsibility. The easy response is that it's the referees' fault. If you look at the root cause of the controversy, it's players getting engaged in cynical play.

"If we didn't have cynical play we wouldn't have to deal with the black card issue.

"If a player commits a black-card offence or gives abuse to a referee or an opponent, he gets a black card. That's what the rule is and we accept what the rule is and get on with it.

"We train our teams accordingly. The art of defending is a difficult area to coach in terms of the tackle and tackling the ball."

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