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Rules, not referees, are real problem

Neither sport, economics or refereeing are exact sciences therefore we have innumerable opinions on these subjects, mostly based on hindsight.

A good referee, according to your columnist Colm O'Rourke, is one who knows the difference between a genuine effort to play the ball and an obvious foul. He states that referees that have not played the game at the highest level cannot read the intentions of a player.

It appears that pundits such as O'Rourke seem to have developed a theoretical feel for refereeing. Could anyone explain how consistency can be achieved by using common sense and ignoring the rules? How would players, managers and coaches determine what was within the rules or playing by ear on a given day, or more a matter of playing a particular referee and his particular version of common sense?

We have an extraordinary situation in Gaelic games, and particularly in football, where a good referee is equated to one who does not apply the rules consistently. This certainly implies that there is something drastically wrong with the rules as they stand.

The situation is compounded by the fact that players, supporters, pundits and many analysts have a very poor knowledge of the rules. In this scenario, referees are easy scapegoats.

Flann O'Reilly

Killarney occasion cannot be beaten

The glorious beautiful romance, soul and lovely good feeling to be found a sunny day at a Munster football final between Kerry and Cork in Killarney is far superior to any atmosphere at a match involving Manchester United, Barcelona or Brazil, or any Heineken Cup match one cares to mention.

Jerry Daly

'Training' ground key to Delap's skill

For the first time I will reveal the reason why Rory Delap can throw a ball at greater speed, accuracy and distances than any other player to the applause of soccer fans the world over.

Rory's antecedents hail from Donegal and are respected throughout the county and beyond. I have the good fortune to know his relations past and present for a lifetime. I can boast of playing with, and against, his dad John Delap in Letterkenny. The ground was the station square in the town belonging to the Lough Swilly Railway and the County Donegal Railway. Rory Delap's grandfather, also called Rory, was the station master off the 'Swilly' and his friend and colleague Matt Patterson was in charge of the Donegal Railway.

The station yard was a busy place with buses coming and going. I, with other driver salesmen, congregated there at the start and end of our ice-cream deliveries throughout the county. The Delap boys, Paddy and John, were ever-ready for a game of soccer played around the buses and other transport. Young John Delap's skills were enhanced in the rough and tumble of our hard-fought contests of a summer's evening when with other lads we perfected our footwork much to the annoyance of the public.

I was driving to Letterkenny when I heard on local radio that my old friend, the generous and kind Rory Delap, had passed on. I called to Rory's residence and after commiserations with his family I met the young professional footballer who came to Letterkenny to honour the memory of his deceased grandfather. A nephew of the deceased, local man John Boyle, was there to offer his condolences. John Boyle was well known to me over many years and we often played seven-a-side football in the '50s. The standard was poor but nevertheless there was serious local rivalry and winning was important to us.

Playing with John was a bonus because he had an unusual gift. He could throw a ball with ease in to the goalmouth from the sideline. Admittedly, it was the reduced seven-a-side pitch. Being a below-average performer, I nevertheless scored many a cheap goal by taking up position at the goalmouth on John's instructions from the sideline: "Charlie, look out for the long throw". John Boyle competed in many local athletic endeavours in his youth. He was rugged and case-hardened by his unremitting work on the family farm. John is long since retired. He was a cheerful and robust friend to me in the formative years.

In the FA Cup final, the commentator talked of Rory's unparalleled throwing skills and acknowledged his contributions to Stoke City and other clubs in his playing career. Rory Delap did not achieve his wish to possess a cup winner's medal that day, but there will be other opportunities. We applaud Rory and wish him every success in the future.

Charlie Doherty

Sunday Indo Sport