Wednesday 19 December 2018

Hurling sounds hooter on referee time-keeping

Cork's Anthony Nash protests to the referee Brian Gavin after his free was saved during last weekend's hurling final
Cork's Anthony Nash protests to the referee Brian Gavin after his free was saved during last weekend's hurling final

Dermot Crowe

HURLING will have a public clock and hooter for all championship games next year, bringing it into line with Gaelic football, the Sunday Independent has learned.

This follows a controversial finish to last Sunday's All-Ireland hurling final between Cork and Clare over the amount of additional time allowed by referee Brian Gavin.

Near the end of normal time in the second half, Gavin indicated a minimum of two minutes would be added for stoppages. Soon after that period began, Pat Horgan scored what looked to be the winning point for Cork, who had trailed for most of the game and never led before then.

A Cork lineball veered wide as the two minutes expired but Gavin allowed the Clare puck-out and from the resulting play they fashioned a dramatic equaliser through their corner-back Domhnall O'Donovan. The clock read 26 seconds over the two minutes when his shot split the posts and guaranteed a bumper replay on Saturday week.

The decision to introduce a public clock in hurling will ease some of the pressure on referees and protect them from accusations of time manipulation, instead offering a more transparent time-keeping alternative.

It was agreed by Central Council as far back as April, soon after the public clock was given the go-ahead for Gaelic football at annual Congress as part of a reform package advocated by the Football Review Committee (FRC), earning 69 per cent support.

A similar Wexford motion to cover both codes was passed at Congress in 2010 but got bogged down in Central Council concerns over cost and logistics.

The motion remained under consideration, however, and in the wake of the FRC move, Central Council extended the facility to hurling in April. Oddly, the decision was not conveyed to the public.

Commentators have been calling on the GAA to implement the clock in hurling, and follow football's lead, unaware that the decision had already been made.

While this will remove the responsibility for time-keeping from the referee, he will still be responsible for signalling for stoppages to the time operator when necessary, for delays like those caused by serious injury and deliberate time-wasting. A hooter will signal the end of the game rather than the referee's whistle. The changes will apply to senior inter-county football and hurling championship matches only.

Over the years referees have been accused of playing for draws to swell the GAA coffers or out of human weakness, perhaps feeling a draw was merited on the run of play.


Gavin, however, was within his rights to add time if he felt it was justified for deliberate time-wasting on Sunday last.

Twice in the period of two additional minutes shown by the fourth official Cork had lineballs which took over a minute to deliver. After O'Donovan's equaliser, and the Cork puck-out that followed, Gavin sounded the final whistle. The whistle was met by Cork boos in the crowd.

The system is already in place in ladies football, introduced after time-related controversy in the late 1990s.

It has been a major success and greatly reduced the scope for conflict over time-keeping, with a countdown clock on display and a hooter signalling the end of play. If a free is awarded before or during the hooter, it can be taken but must be scored directly. If the ball is in play when or just before the hooter sounds, the same law applies: play continues until the ball is dead. A score is allowed provided there is no more interference with the ball before it goes dead.

Last weekend, Tipperary scored a dramatic late win in the All-Ireland ladies intermediate semi-final against Fermanagh, with the decisive point still in flight when the hooter sounded.

Sunday Independent

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