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Sunday 25 August 2019

Gough gets All-Ireland call despite Kerry gripe

A family affair: All-Ireland final referee David Gough (centre) with his umpires (from left) Eugene Gough, Terry Gough, Stephen Gough and Dean Gough
A family affair: All-Ireland final referee David Gough (centre) with his umpires (from left) Eugene Gough, Terry Gough, Stephen Gough and Dean Gough

David Gough has been confirmed as this year's All-Ireland senior football final referee, ending several days of controversy over his 'will he or won't he?' involvement in the Dublin/Kerry showpiece.

It will be the Meath man's first senior decider.

His appointment comes despite some pre-emptive grumbling from the Kingdom over his residency in the capital, while some of his calls during the 2016 All-Ireland semi-final between the counties also caused grievance in Kerry.

A member of the Slane club, Gough has previously taken the All-Ireland whistle at U-21 level (Galway against Cork in 2013), minor (Kerry against Tipperary in 2015) and club (Corofin versus Nemo Rangers in 2018) as well as refereeing the Connacht final in 2017 and last year's Ulster decider.

He has long been touted for the top job - although his putative appointment became shrouded in controversy once it emerged that it would be a Kerry/Dublin final.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice, Kerry manager for that 2016 semi-final, said on Monday: "I think it's an injustice if he does get the game. I am not going to be dictating here who I feel should get the game, but a final referee has to be a neutral referee."

He added: "Of course when David Gough goes out to referee a match he is neutral and impartial, I am not questioning that, but it can't be fair that if you are living and working in a place, that you get to referee an All-Ireland final involving that county.

"It's tough on him, he is a very good referee, and Dublin are there every year. I do genuinely think from his own perspective, there's huge pressure on him. I wouldn't look on it as punishing him."

There was no such furore after Gough was appointed for the Super 8s clash of Dublin and Cork. Earlier this week, four-time All-Ireland referee Pat McEnaney described his performance that night as "top class" and argued that geography should not count against him.

"You can't judge a player on the form of three years ago and it's the same now, he's right up there with the best. David Gough definitely has to be in the top two or three referees in the country," McEnaney concluded.

Kerry gripes from 2016 included a disputed '45' (converted by Dean Rock) and especially his failure to call a late free against Kevin McManamon for a heavy tackle on Peter Crowley, leading to a turnover and Diarmuid Connolly insurance point.

Gough later explained in a local radio interview: "I didn't get it wrong on purpose, I just didn't see it. Michael Fitzsimons, the Dublin corner-back, had come on that day and he had just crossed my line of vision."

Gough lives in Dublin and formerly worked as a primary teacher in Terenure. He is now GAA education and development officer in the DCU St Patrick's campus in Drumcondra.

His umpires on September 1 will comprise a team of Goughs - Dean, Eugene, Stephen and Terry, all Slane club members.

Cork's Conor Lane will be the standby referee. The other linesman is Barry Cassidy (Derry) and the sideline official will be Seán Hurson (Tyrone), while Noel Mooney from Cavan will take charge of the minor game between Cork and Galway.

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