Sunday 19 November 2017

When a ref has just one look, maybe a TMO could sort out the CCCC, CHC, CAC and DRA quagmire

Diarmuid Connolly is sent off
Diarmuid Connolly is sent off

JIM GAVIN has hinted that the introduction of a rugby-style Television Match Official - or TMO - could remove much of the controversy that has marred the business end of this year's All-Ireland football championship.

Red cards, black cards, penalty decisions and the feigning of injury have dominated debate since the quarter-final stages.

Meanwhile, the GAA's multi-layered disciplinary system - embracing the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC), Central Hearings Committee (CHC), Central Appeals Committee (CAC) and the independent Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA) - has come under ultra-critical scrutiny.

Diarmuid Connolly's six-day saga culminating in a successful trip to the DRA was the most high-profile example of a suspension failing to stick, but Mayo's Kevin Keane also enjoyed a fortuitous escape via the CHC, which also threw out an eight-week ban for Tyrone's Tiernan McCann proposed by the CCCC.

Dublin availed of the system to gain a replay reprieve for Connolly, so Gavin's insistence that the process is "fit for purpose" is no surprise.


Yet the Dublin boss had some interesting thoughts on how a TMO might clear up some of the controversy before it even gets that far.

Harking back to "some of these incidents" from the drawn semi-final with Mayo, Gavin remarked: "It's hindsight, when you have the replay, and the referee doesn't have a TMO at his disposal which, you know, sometimes can be difficult for him. It's something maybe to be looked at…"

Asked if he favoured the introduction of a TMO, he replied: "I think anything that can add to the game, no more so than Hawk-Eye, any modern bit of technology that can be added to the game would be a benefit.

"But we needed to be cognisant as well of the provincial grounds that we play our Gaelic games in. Every game isn't in Thurles or in Croke Park. That's the challenge with Hawk-Eye as well - it needs to be put out to the other provincial grounds as well, just on the balance of fairness to all teams that play."

When quizzed as to how a TMO might work, and whether he would be confined to adjudicating on big decisions such as penalties and card colours, Gavin clarified: "I'm just referencing that in terms of it's easy for people to be critical of referees, in hindsight. We have two very dynamic games, hurling and football, and it's a challenge for all match officials to get things right at that particular instance in time.


"It's something that could be explored. I'm not advocating that it's the way to go, but anything that can help referees … certainly I'm on record as saying that the standards have improved over the last few years," added Gavin.

Yet, even on The Sunday Game that same night, pundits with access to numerous viewings from different camera angles can't always agree.

"That's the great thing about our sport. We like to talk about it and engage with our opinions," Gavin mused.

But what about referees left hanging when committees overturn their decisions?

"We're all members of the one association and we all have signed up to the rules of the association so, yeah, referees do need support," said Gavin. "I think they are doing a very good job this year. I wouldn't have many major complaints about how our games are being officiated."



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