Tuesday 21 November 2017

Donaghy calls for use of video referees in all major games at Croke Park

FOUR months on, if you look hard enough, you will still unearth a few Kerry folk who blame referee Joe McQuillan for their eventual All-Ireland final demise against the Dubs.

Kieran Donaghy isn't among them - he prefers to park defeats and move on - but the Kerry full-forward would love to see the GAA embrace video technology for big matches in Croke Park.

More specifically, he cites the example of American Football where coaches can challenge certain decisions by throwing a red flag onto the field, seeking an instant replay of the call.

"They (GAA referees) have to make a call in a split-second from where they see it, be they 20 yards or 30 yards away. They don't have the luxury like in American sport," Donaghy said.

"I was watching the two American Football games last weekend and it was very good. Guys can go home and accept that they lost on the right terms and not be looking at anything -- 'Oh, was this a free, was it not a free?' They have the help of going over to the camera and checking it out."

By contrast, Gaelic footballers and hurlers must 'live and die by the sword' of disputed refereeing decisions. "Sometimes we have got calls that have won us games," Donaghy accepted.

But what happens when these calls go against Kerry in an All-Ireland final? "It makes it harder," he replied, "but I wouldn't even worry about the frees. The frees happen.


"But when you miss clear-cut things like fellas picking the ball off the ground; or when you have a player like Bryan Sheehan on the field and someone hops the ball twice on their own 45 with a minute or two to go, you say that should be a free and it should be Bryan Sheehan putting us up a point."

The GAA has already taken its first tentative steps into the brave new world of new technology, having decided last August to use Hawk-Eye goal-line technology on a two-year pilot basis for all football and hurling championship games at Croke Park, starting this summer.

Donaghy would happily embrace the American Football system whereby NFL coaches can challenge two decisions per game, but sees a major obstacle - what he perceives as a GAA attitude that "we can't do it in Croke Park because we can't do it everywhere else".

"For every game that's on in Croke Park, they have the advantages of two big screens and a referee sitting where you have a fourth official, just putting up sub boards and stuff," he points out.

"He could be doing a bit more -- maybe ask him to check out if that was a free or not a free, whether it was a point or not a point, or is it a 45 or not a 45. I think for every game in Croke Park, it is that simple, it is that quick. What you eliminate then is fans being upset, you eliminate referees and umpires getting grief after the game.

"When we see a replay on the television we go, 'Oh, how did he get that wrong?'

"In live time that is a split second decision, often a guess," Donaghy expands. "Every game in Croke Park is a big game - whether a hurling Division Three National League final, for those two teams involved it is the biggest day.

"There are two big screens there, so why not use them? Granted, you might not be able to use them in Fitzgerald Stadium or Markievicz Park, but that's fine."

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