Cork hurling refs are under too much scrutiny but must allow the game to flow

Cork hurling refs are under too much scrutiny but must allow the game to flow
Edward Gaffey, Sarsfields, is well tackled by Michael O’Callaghan, Argideen Rangers, in a recent IHC game. Picture: Dan Linehan

IT was very interesting to read the comments that were made, particularly by John Meyler, about the way the rule book is applied by referees here on Leeside.

The former Cork manager was speaking after RTÉ’s coverage last Saturday night of the double-header involving the Glen and Newtown and Imokilly and Sars.

The night in question was atrocious and it certainly was not easy for the players or officials. Sars ended up with 13 players in their loss to the divisional side, having two sent off for second yellow card offences.

Up in the press area we didn’t have the opportunity of having a second look at those offences but quite a few people believed them to have been somewhat harsh, all the more so given the prevailing conditions.

For quite some time now there’s a strong perception that the manner with which the games are being refereed are different to elsewhere and the inter-county teams are being hindered as a result.

The belief is that too many ‘soft frees’ are being given and as a result there is not enough flow to the games and not enough intensity.

Meyler believes that there is a lack of continuity in the games, that the rules are being applied too rigidly.

He says: “It’s refereed differently, Cork is refereed by the rules of the book. When I go to Thurles, Kilkenny, it’s a different game. They apply the rules here and that’s just it.

“I know that the conditions on Saturday night were poor but we had two last week that were stop-start as well and there was no flow. I think it is (hampering Cork), the intensity of the game, the continuity of the game, the excitement is not there’’ he said.

This observer does not see enough club games in other counties to make a comparison but there are times that you’d have to agree with Meyler’s comments, frees are being awarded too easily.

At the same time, the comments of Meyer’s co-analyst on Saturday night, Kieran ‘Fraggie’ Murphy were interesting too.

He believes that refs hands here in Cork are tied too much by the fact that they are under too much pressure from assessors and if they are not meeting the criteria, ticking the boxes, giving the yellows as per requirement they will miss out on getting the bigger games.

Those comments are correct and they needed to be said and maybe, as Murphy stated, it is something that needs to be addressed.

Look, in general the referees here in Cork are doing a fine job and we have some very good ones.

Referees across the sporting landscape are under so much scrutiny now, you have former high-ranking referees writing newspaper articles commenting on their performance.

Of course, mistakes will be made, high-profile ones at that but the criticism that they are receiving now right down to U12 matches is too much altogether.

Social media has come into play too easily as well and it’s very easy for a faceless individual to tear strips off a referee. Would they go out with a whistle in their mouth?

Anyway, the comments of Meyler and Murphy will generate a lot of debate in a lot of factories and offices this week and that’s not a bad thing.

Next weekend the focus switches on to the two semi-finals of the PIHC, Inniscarra against Kilworth and Fr O’Neill’s taking on Blarney.

More often than not this grade of hurling produces better fare than its senior counterpart and these two games have huge potential.

O’Neill’s are being perceived as the favourites but when you reach this stage in this championship making one team favourites over the other can be a dangerous practise, all the more so because of the very level playing field.

It’s the one championship that at the start of any season where you cannot with any degree of confidence make a prediction.

Would Inniscarra or Kilworth be two of the more fancied teams at the outset? You would say no but now one of them will be in the final.

This grade continues to enthrall each year and we should have two crackers on Sunday.

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