Saturday 17 March 2018

Martin Breheny: Will Horgan apply rules strictly or go with the flow?

Referee Fergal Horgan. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Referee Fergal Horgan. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

An ill wind and all that. Tipperary's defeat in the semi-final left Fergal Horgan eligible to referee the senior hurling final for the first time.

Tipp's departure was bad news for Colm Lyons (Cork), who was also in the running after refereeing a quarter-final.

The pattern has been for one of the quarter-final referees to get the final, so if Tipp had beaten Galway, Lyons would have got the honour. Instead, he will be a linesman and standby referee on Sunday.

It's good to see a changing of the guard for the final after an extended period when Barry Kelly (Westmeath), Brian Gavin (Offaly) and James McGrath (Westmeath) had the whistle for most of hurling's biggest days.


Gavin (four), Kelly and McGrath (two each) officiated at eight of the last ten finals, with Michael Wadding (Waterford) and James Owens (Wexford) doing one each.

Obviously Gavin, Kelly and McGrath refereed most of the other big games too in recent years, a period in which a number of trends emerged. The most obvious has been a 'let play flow' approach, which is admirable, except when it extends to 'let play flow at all costs'.

Referees are charged with implementing the rules, not their version of them but since the 'let play flow' brigade always get more credit than those who take a tougher stance, there has been quite a lot of slippage. And not just in the physical confrontations either but also in over-carrying and illegal handpassing.

The latter has descended into a total farce with the majority coming under the 'throwing' heading. As for steps, the rule is being broken all the time.

Will Horgan take a harder line on all fronts?


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Irish Independent

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