Gough's tough approach not followed by other referees
Meath referee David Gough took a hard line on off-the-ball fouling, especially by defenders who tugged on opponents as they tried to launch a run, in last Sunday's Connacht football final.
Quite right too. A foul is a foul, whether or not the ball is in the vicinity. But here's a thing. Did the Galway-Roscommon game have a disproportionate amount of off-the-ball fouling?
Somehow, it's hard to believe that it was worse than other games this summer so why the different approach? Will we see the rule being applied as stringently when All-Ireland action comes to Croke Park later on? Gough was so sharp on off-the-ball pulling that he's to be commended for spotting actual play and what was going on elsewhere.
Could he have been taking a cue from his umpires? Either way, it's curious how that game was deemed to have more off-the-ball sinners than most others.
intent Then again, what was so different about Dublin v Galway in the Leinster hurling quarter-final in late May when Barry Kelly penalised three players for illegal handpasses in the first 25 minutes.
Those of us who believe that this rule is being broken all the time were delighted by what looked like a statement of intent early in the championship.
Was it the start of a clampdown? If only. Kelly has always been sharper on this rule than most of the others who seem to think that it's sacrilegious to stop play for an illegal pass.
Players respond by throwing the ball, knowing that there's a high probability of getting away with it as indeed they have in recent weeks. As for taking too many steps, it continues to be more observed in the breach than the observance.
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