Thursday 14 December 2017

'Where does it stop for refs? I pity them' - Kearns

Tipperary football manager Liam Kearns:
Tipperary football manager Liam Kearns: "I just think the referees are being asked to do way too much" Photo: Sportsfile

Liam Kearns believes the GAA is heaping far too much pressure on referees by tinkering with football's rules.

The Tipperary manager views next year's introduction of 'the mark' as yet another headache for officials already struggling with the vagaries of the black card.

"Where does it stop for referees? I pity them. They're trying to cope with this black card and they're not coping," he suggested. "There's no consistency as regards the black card. The elite referees, I think, are struggling to cope with the black card, not to mind the referees going down the food chain.

"And now you have the mark and that's another layer for them. I just think the referees are being asked to do way too much."

Kearns contrasted the differing approaches taken to this year's semi-finals - Mayo/Tipperary and Dublin/Kerry.

"Our lad was sent off after eight minutes for a black card, and there were at least five black cards in the Dublin/Kerry match and not one given," he claimed (though one was given deep in injury-time).

"So if we got the referee from the second game, we wouldn't have seen any black card. And if they got our referee, based on Robbie Kiely's black, there would have been five, six, seven." The Tipp boss expects the mark to have a "big bearing on how things are done" next year but remains unsure how exactly it will play out.

As for the GAA's Diretor General Páraic Duffy's proposal for SFC reform, replacing quarter-finals with round-robin groups, he believes this - just like the black card - is geared towards "the strong teams with depth".

He predicted: "In my view you're going to have the same three or four teams in the All-Ireland finals.

"I mean, Tipperary coming from nowhere this year ... you'd have to say that'll be very unlikely to happen any more.

"We did it but I'm still surprised that we broke through that ceiling, from the quarter-final to a semi-final from Division 3. As Mickey Harte said, nobody from outside Division 1 can win an All-Ireland. He's not that far wrong."

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