Tuesday 25 September 2018

Comment: Indefensible howler adds to case for goal-line technology

3 June 2018; Waterford players, from left, Stephen O'Keeffe, Philip Mahony, Michael Walsh, and Conor Gleeson appeal to the umpires after Austin Gleeson was adjudged to have carried the ball over the line, and a goal was given, during the Munster GAA Senior Hurling Championship Round 3 match between Waterford and Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
3 June 2018; Waterford players, from left, Stephen O'Keeffe, Philip Mahony, Michael Walsh, and Conor Gleeson appeal to the umpires after Austin Gleeson was adjudged to have carried the ball over the line, and a goal was given, during the Munster GAA Senior Hurling Championship Round 3 match between Waterford and Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Eamonn Sweeney

The decision to award Tipperary that second goal against Waterford is one of the great lousy calls in GAA history.

It belongs in the hall of shame along with Gerry Murphy's goal for Kerry against Tipperary in 1999 when the ref played on after a shot came off a stanchion behind the goal, the one Matt Ruth scored for Kilkenny against Offaly in 1982 after the ball had gone over the end line and Joe Sheridan's last-second dive for glory in the 2010 Leinster final. It was that bad.

Umpires have contrasting views: Austin Gleeson keeps the ball out of the Waterford net, however it is the umpire on the opposite side of the goal that raises his green flag.
Umpires have contrasting views: Austin Gleeson keeps the ball out of the Waterford net, however it is the umpire on the opposite side of the goal that raises his green flag.

You can talk about the exciting finale to this terrific game, about how Waterford should probably have sewn it up before the goal was given and about the courage of Tipperary in recovering from an almost impossible position for the second time in eight days. But you can't get away from the fact that Derek McGrath's side was denied victory by a wrong call.

There will be those who echo the gracious words of Waterford's Pauric Mahony after the final whistle and say, "These things happen in sport". But they don't often happen in such a blatantly unjust fashion. The standard of inter-county refereeing is generally very good. That's why it sticks in the craw to see a game brimming with so much skill, character and endeavour decided by such an absolute howler.

It's not one of those cases where hindsight is twenty-twenty vision. It didn't even look like a goal when Gleeson juggled the ball on his own line before clearing it. Had the game carried on from there no-one would have passed any heed. After all, the umpire on that side of the goal simply let play go on.

It was the umpire on the other side of the goal who, after casting a few glances over at his colleague, decided to wave the green flag. You'd want to be pretty sure of yourself when making such a crucial call yet that umpire hadn't even been level with Gleeson who'd clearly held the ball away from the goal line.

Galway referee Alan Kelly had the option of over-ruling his eager umpire but allowed the goal instead. Yet when a point by Ronan Maher was incorrectly signalled wide by his umpires a few minutes later, he immediately intervened to award the score.

It left a sour taste in the mouth because a victory would have left Waterford in a much stronger position than the draw does.

It now seems they'll need to win both their remaining games to reach the knockout stages. Tipperary, who'd have been out had they lost this one, live to fight another day.

Yesterday's game was the best argument yet for the introduction of goal-line technology and the extension of the Hawk-Eye system to all major GAA grounds.

The umpiring at the other end wasn't great either, a Tommy Ryan point looked like it had gone wide, a Gleeson shot signalled wide looked like a point. We saw players appealing for the use of a replay system which wasn't actually available.

decisions Referee Kelly sometimes seemed swept along by the momentum of the Tipperary comeback with Michael Ryan's team getting most of the borderline decisions in the frantic final quarter.

It often seems to be the Tipperarys, Kerrys and Kilkennys of this world who get the rub of the green and the Waterfords who get the rough end of the stick.

As the Gospel according to Matthew says, "For whoever has, to him more shall be given, but whoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that which he has".

What really rankles is that Waterford weren't given a snowball's chance in hell going into this game. The phrase, "You'd fear for Waterford," was much used as McGrath mustered his depleted forces.

Yet for 50 odd minutes fear was precisely the thing missing from Waterford's performance. A team often criticised for erring on the side of caution let rip in exhilarating fashion with players from the U-21 All-Ireland-winning team of two years ago, DJ Foran, Tom Devine, Patrick Curran, flourishing under the adventurous new dispensation.

Yet they tied up in the closing stages against a Tipperary team who once more seemed only able to play in fits and starts. Last week Michael Ryan was supposed to have turned the tide with a rousing half-time talk. He must have sneaked on to the pitch at the start of the final quarter yesterday because only then did a 14-man Tipp look like their old selves.

They limp on and Premier optimists may take solace from the resemblance of the team's current adventures to those of Mayo during last year's football qualifiers. Their best form may have deserted them but they have answered any question marks over their fighting spirit.

All the same Tipp's goose should be cooked by now. This is a wonderful Munster Championship which may well end up being the greatest provincial competition ever played.

remarkable Between Saturday and Sunday's matches it was probably the most exciting sporting event in the world this weekend. Every week we're witnessing the most remarkable performances, rallies and finales.

The players giving those performances deserve better than the type of refereeing and umpiring we saw in Limerick. Waterford deserve better. The fans deserve better. The competition deserves better.

In my opinion what Alan Kelly and his umpires deserve is a break from inter-county duty. Yesterday 21st-century hurling was let down by officiating from an older era, an era when people said, "Ah sure it'll do."

But it won't do. It won't do at all.

Irish Independent

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