Monday 18 December 2017

McEnaney wants tougher stance from hurling refs

Pat McEnaney. Photo: Sportsfile
Pat McEnaney. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The head of the GAA's national referees committee has called for significant improvement from hurling match officials in 2013.

Pat McEnaney has said his committee is disappointed that "seven to eight clear red cards" were missed by referees in this year's hurling championship.

He described such a situation as "unacceptable" and signalled a change in approach in 2013.

His comments come as former GAA president Nickey Brennan questions the performances of the officials in two of Kilkenny's last three championship matches that resulted in serious injuries sustained by two of their players.

Michael Rice required the insertion of seven screws in an operation on a hand that was left shattered after a blow from an opponent's hurl in the All-Ireland semi-final against Tipperary, while TJ Reid's kneecap was fractured by a blow from a hurl in the All-Ireland final replay against Galway.

"The two incidents involving Rice and Reid were very serious and we are once again left wondering how the GAA can punish the aggressors if such incidents are not handled properly by the match officials," wrote Brennan in his weekly 'Kilkenny People' column.


McEnaney said he wouldn't be specific about any particular incidents but admits that, overall, he finds it hard to disagree with the former president's views and confirmed that the NRC has conducted its own review with referees since the championship.

"As a group, I'd have to say we weren't happy with it. There were only two red cards in this year's championship. We felt in our review that there should have been seven to eight more red cards that were clear offences. That's a figure of 16pc that we got right, which is not satisfactory," he said.

The former football referee, who took charge of three All-Ireland finals, has been head of the referees' committee since April and frank in his assessments this year.

Brennan pulls no punches either in his analysis. "I know that some Kilkenny players have stepped over the line on occasions and were rightly punished for their misdemeanours," he wrote.

"Such punishment was accepted and the team moved on to the next challenge. It is therefore ironic that at the end of another championship year, two of Kilkenny's star men, TJ Reid and Michael Rice, will play no part in their club's current championship campaign.

"Both were the victims of appalling indiscipline in which the perpetrators went unpunished for reckless use of the hurley.

"I accept that neither player went out intentionally to cause the Kilkenny opponent a serious injury, but in the heat of a contest unsavoury incidents sometimes occur which have no place in Gaelic games.

"It is simply not good enough to talk about hurling being a man's game and whatever happens on the field being left there."

Earlier this year, on the eve of the hurling league final in May, Kilkenny manager Brian Cody made quite an impassioned plea to officials to stop trying to take the physicality out of the game.

The GAA's Central Competitions Controls Committee can rarely give out retrospective suspensions now because of a change in the protocols in revisiting incidents already dealt with by referees.

McEnaney is adamant, however, that his group are convinced there should have been five times as many red cards in the 2012 championship.

"We have to accept that we missed them and that's a good starting point for us in 2013."

McEnaney sees room for improvement overall in football too but is satisfied that there was improvement in the critical areas they targeted in 2012 -- body checking, the protection of the high fielder and interference by opponents with injured players who are lying on the ground.

Irish Independent

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