Players urged to pick up the whistle
By Daire Walsh
PERHAPS the most interesting nugget from yesterday’s GAA referee recruitment launch at Croke Park was Pat McEnaney’s eagerness to road test the idea of two hurling referees in a future Allianz League campaign.
This is an experiment that has been mooted in the past, but for James Owens of Wexford, it is an avenue that the GAA doesn’t need to explore.
“I wouldn’t agree with two referees in hurling. It adds to the excitement in hurling, that little bit of doubt where players are going up challenging for a ball. Whereas if we went with that it would be too stop-start,” said Owens yesterday.
“I think you would see too much of what goes on. Players like to get in and get involved among each other as well and they don’t like to be pulled back for every little thing.”
Galway whistler Alan Kelly was also in attendance on the day, and even though he didn’t specifically refer to the notion of two referees, he believes that the game of hurling doesn’t require any major surgery.
“I think the game, as it is, is working out fine. The last few years we have had brilliant hurling championships. That is all that has been talked about. Whereas from a hurling perspective we would have felt that football needed to be tidied up,” the Rahoon-Newcastle club man.
In the aftermath of this year’s All-Ireland final replay, the comments made by Kilkenny manager Brian Cody in relation to Westmeath’s Barry Kelly (who was in charge of the drawn match) gathered significant public attention.
Both were quick to express sympathy for Kelly, especially as he had a split second before deciding to penalise Cats centre-back Brian Hogan in the dying stages of the contest.
“It is a split second decision and you have to get it right. If you are a corner-forward that is going to get three things wrong in the game and one thing right, you would take it,” Alan Kelly said.
“You would have to feel for Barry, a lot of the criticism is not warranted.”
Owens added: “There is certain criticism that is warranted as the saying goes, but you would have to feel for Barry.
“The way we would look at it, you could make three calls on that decision. He was right there beside it, he made the call. I think the comments were probably very harsh but we will get on with our end of things.”