Sport GAA

Thursday 22 August 2019

Refs to review Hawk-Eye intervention guidelines following John McGrath disallowed goal controversy

McGrath goal chalked off after umpires told to allow score detection system make the call

John McGrath of Tipperary scores a goal which was subsequently disallowed
John McGrath of Tipperary scores a goal which was subsequently disallowed
National Referees Committee chairman Willie Barrett. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The GAA's National Referees Committee will review their guidelines around the chain of events that led to John McGrath's goal for Tipperary being disallowed in the 31st minutes of Sunday's All-Ireland hurling semi-final with Wexford.

Play was called back after the Hawk-Eye official on duty, Noel O'Donoghue, intervened to advise referee Seán Cleere that there had been a score.

Some 27 seconds had elapsed from the time Tipperary goalkeeper Brian Hogan grabbed the ball from a Lee Chin free above his crossbar to McGrath's goal.

But when Chin's free was reviewed by the score detection system, it was clear that it had been a point, resulting in a four-point swing.

National Referees Committee chairman Willie Barrett, who is a Tipp man, said the very scenario - a shot caught behind the crossbar - was discussed at a pre-match meeting between semi-final referees and officials on the Tuesday week before the game.

He said the call was to allow Hawk-Eye make that determination, not umpires who were positioned behind the goals for the free.

"We met the semi-final referees as usual on the Tuesday week before and we went through everything. The one issue that did come up was that," said Barrett.

"And we told them that if the ball is deemed to be over the bar for certain, you leave it to the Hawk-Eye official to call it, you do not call it. So umpires were clearly instructed not to make that call because it's a very thin line. The result was that it was over the bar, no question."

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"Hawk-Eye call the referee to tell him to stop the play. Unfortunately, a time had elapsed before play was stopped with the result that a goal was scored."

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Barrett said their review would focus on whether to ask umpires to raise the issue if they thought there was one, thereby allowing a break in play to determine if it was a score and avoid a scenario that developed so quickly.

"The referee acted correctly," Barrett pointed out.

The speed with which the communication was made to him, however, is also likely to be reviewed. Tipperary were awarded a free 12 seconds after Hogan's catch, at which time play could have stopped if communication was made.

By the time the free was taken, six seconds later and 18 seconds after the catch, it appears Cleere still wasn't aware.

A whistle can be heard as play continues towards the Wexford goalmouth though where John O'Dwyer's delicate pass to McGrath puts him in before he quickly realises play is being called back.

"I think he had blown to stop the play before the ball hit the net but that is neither here or there because John McGrath was put in," said Barrett.

"Some of the players may have heard it but play continued, the ball did, ultimately, end up in the net. Then he had to go back and restart the game with a puck-out. He did follow correct procedure.

Barrett admitted the incident was "unprecedented" but one they have spoken about for the last two years and which will be reviewed. "We'll certainly have to look into how much time can elapse before we would call him. Is it the correct procedure (asking umpires not to make the call). We felt it was. It certainly hadn't happened until now."

Barrett suspected the Chin point was one that would have been checked a couple of times for certainty before being called back. Two other Tipperary goals were disallowed which Barrett says were "judgement calls" all referees have to make.

Late on Jake Morris had the ball in the Wexford net but advantage to Tipperary was denied and instead they had to be satisfied with a free.

Barrett also said that it was "unfortunate" officials missed the deflection off a sideline from Limerick's Darragh O'Donovan the evening before that could have given the All-Ireland champions and equalising opportunity to force extra-time against Kilkenny.

However, he didn't think any review of technology would incorporate detection of sidelines being deflected in that manner.

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