Time to penalise changes at death
With the senior football final ending up with only a single point separating the winners from the losers, you might have thought the vanquished would have immediate recourse to errors made by the referee during the course of the game. You would be wrong.
The senior game passed off without major incident and so congratulations are in order for referee David Coldrick. He handled the day very well indeed and when the only controversy in the game arose, he got the bit of luck all participants need on All-Ireland Final day.
There is no doubt Cork deserved a penalty in the dying moments of the game but once again, in a crowded goalmouth, a referee missed a blatant handling of the ball by a defender (other than the goalkeeper) in the small rectangle. Because Cork went on to win the day, no more was said about it. Them's the breaks!
But the minor game had its moments. In a strange type of contest, where the new champions Tyrone established big leads of eight points in both the first and second half, there seemed little possibility that we might get a tight finish.
But Cork roared back into contention and as the clock ticked down found themselves behind by one point. It all depended on how much 'time added on' the referee might allow. When the side-line official put just two minutes on the board I was astounded.
Between second-half injuries, general stoppages, substitutions and time wasting by Tyrone, I expected a minimum of four, if not five, minutes to be played after the regulation 60 had expired.
And when the long whistle sounded at 62' 21" it underlined once again, the major problem we are having with time-keeping. I put a clock on the second half and reached 4' 43" for time to be added on.
The reality that the GAA is unwilling to face is this: teams that build up a lead will often encourage their players to go down and stay down (feigning injury or just wasting time tying laces, putting boots on, etc) especially after opponents score. This is calculated to break any momentum the opposition have.
As the end nears managers gamble on introducing two or three subs because they know their own supporters will start whistling once the regulation time has passed and put the referee under pressure to call time early.
The GAA needs to add a rule on time-keeping that states there will be 30 seconds or 45 seconds automatically added on for substitutions on top of injury time and so on. So, three subs from each team would greatly increase the time added on and put a stop to this unsightly and cynical aspect of a game's denouement.