Friday 20 April 2018

Refs need to raise game

John Greene

John Greene

It's very early days in the football and hurling championships and referees are already under pressure.

There were some very poor performances last weekend in both football and hurling which did nothing to dispel the notion that the standard of refereeing in both codes is a long way off what it should be. In hurling, the loose application of the rules of engagement is not -- despite what the purists argue -- in the best interests of the game. In football, the lack of consistency across the board is alarming.

We have to be careful not to have unrealistic expectations of referees, but equally it is reasonable to expect that there is basic cohesion; that referees will by and large officiate each game the same. The three striking incidents last weekend, all broadly similar, were each handled in three completely different ways which is what then leads to frustration among players, managers and spectators.

It was even possible to detect some frustration on the part of new referees' chief Pat McEnaney during a refreshingly frank television appearance last week. There are lots of support structures in place now for referees, and there is no doubt that greater powers need to be given to linesmen and umpires to assist on the field, but referees too need to step up to the plate.

jgreene@independent.ie

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