Monday 24 September 2018

Double yellow is ref's biggest cop-out

Forwards don't get fair deal from refs

Eoghan O’Gara is shown a red card by referee Ciarán Branagan during the All-Ireland SFC
quarter-final at Croke Park Picture: Sportsfile
Eoghan O’Gara is shown a red card by referee Ciarán Branagan during the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final at Croke Park Picture: Sportsfile

Jim Gavin felt that "a lot of what happened in the game was very predictable," on Saturday night which meant that his post-match press conference sounded like an echo from three weeks back.

"I think we all knew that would happen, that some of our players would receive special attention," the Dublin manager said.

Donegal weren't exactly original in their selections either.

After the Leinster final, Tom Cribbin declared that Westmeath had intentionally sought to force Diarmuid Connolly into the sort of reaction that would get him sent off.

They only half did the job, but Donegal were much more efficient in this regard on Saturday night.

Not that you could specifically argue with either card Connolly was shown by Ciarán Brannigan on Saturday night.

But Gavin's unsaid contention was that lots of those Donegal players had gone unpunished for their many acts of physical and verbal provocation before that.

It was, he said "a source of disappointment that a team who plays the game the way we want to play the game, that we, Dublin, end up with 13 men. That's the surprising bit, I find."

Indeed. Eoghan O'Gara, the second Dub to see red, will have a strong case if and when Dublin decide to appeal the censure, given the contact he made on Neil McGee's midriff was with an open hand.

If there was a red card offence committed on Saturday evening, it was Michael Murphy's closed-fisted, straight arm which landed on Brian Fenton's jaw early on.

But again, McGee's incitement immediately before the O'Gara red was ignored by what Gavin referred to as "the eight of them, four umpires and the four men in black."

"It's up to officials to act upon it and if they don't…then they're letting the players down on the pitch."


Gavin is nothing if not thorough so instead of just feigning outrage and pleading for action to be taken, he prescribed the sanction.

"There's black card for cynical play both verbal and physical against opponents...and for aggressive nature towards the referee and that's an area we don't really see too much of."

Again, you couldn't really argue.

When last did you see a player booked for sledging?

Earlier, Tyrone finished with 14 men after Seán Cavanagh, a target of Lee Keegan's meaty provocation, was double-yellowed.

The process of getting a player sent off is facilitated by the biggest cop-out in GAA refereeing - the act of booking two players for an off-the-ball physical exchange.

"This thing of 'there's always two involved'… there isn't," Mickey Harte insisted.

"It's always somebody starts it. They need to be more tuned into who starts these things."

In essence, it would seem you have a fair-to-decent chance of reducing the number of players you have to play against by firstly, having one of your defenders start a wrestling match with whichever player you deem it most beneficial to have removed.

The evidence shows that in a high percentage of these cases, a referee will dish out a yellow card to both players.

Then switch a man who has yet to be booked onto that opposition play and repeat the process.

The most common application of the rules, it seems, are weighted in favour of the provocateur.

Keegan,who was immense for Mayo on Saturday, last year admitted to dragging Connolly to the ground in the drawn All-Ireland semi-final between Dublin and Mayo last year because essentially, the likely sanction was preferable to marking fairly.

"If a forward wants to go and attack and it ends up in a wrestling match," Harte reasoned, "it's not the forward that's going to instigate that."

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