Cork referee Lane is the right man to handle the Kerry and Dublin replay 

Cork referee Lane is the right man to handle the Kerry and Dublin replay 
Referee Conor Lane. The Banteer native will take charge of the All-Ireland replay. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

THE county senior football championship round 2 tie between Carbery Rangers and Castlehaven still stands out as the best game in the competition this season.

It had everything, including extra-time, with the contest swaying one way and then the next before the Rosscarbery club just about got over the line to edge a gripping encounter.

It's also no coincidence that Conor Lane was the referee and his brilliant display was such that it should be used as the leading example of officiating at its best for budding whistlers.

The Banteer club-man handled a tricky situation even before the throw-in with the minimum of fuss and the maximum effect.

As he was about to start proceedings an outbreak of jostling broke out in front of the Ross goal.

Lane looked down to see if it would peter out quickly, but it didn't, so he trotted towards the rutting antlers, skipping past them without hardly acknowledging their existence before a brief discussion with his umpires.

After hearing the evidence, the referee dipped into his pocket for the yellow card and brandished it towards a player from either side without missing a step back towards the half-way line.

That was it, done and dusted, hostilities over and on with the action. And for the next hour-and-a-half Lane oozed control in every aspect.

Those foolish enough to think they could get away with a late hit or blocking a run soon found out that the Mounties always get their man.

Castlehaven's Damien Cahalane rises above Carbery Rangers' James Fitzpatrick. Picture: Anne Marie Cronin
Castlehaven's Damien Cahalane rises above Carbery Rangers' James Fitzpatrick. Picture: Anne Marie Cronin

Usually, Lane waited for a break in play before returning to the offending player to administer justice without any histrionics.

So, this day next week, he will be putting the finishing touches to his preparations for the All-Ireland football final replay between Dublin and Kerry at Croke Park at 6pm.

It's no surprise that Lane has been handed the plum appointment given that David Gough, who officiated at last weekend's tense draw, is prevented by rule from taking charge of the second game.

The announcement brought wry smiles to the faces of Cork people familiar with Kerry referee, Tommy Sugrue, who was the man-in-the-middle for the Cork-Meath final in 1988.

Cork led by a point at the death before Sugrue handed what appeared a soft free to Meath in front of the posts to practically guarantee an equaliser and another day out, won by the Leinster champions.

County board chairperson, Tracey Kennedy, struck a chord when reacting to Lane's appointment.

“He richly deserves it. There is no doubt he is one of the best referees in the country.

“It's his third All-Ireland final and I'm delighted for Conor. I've no doubt he will do an absolutely fantastic job,” she said.

On a separate matter, a review of development squads and academies is set to recommend that U19 becomes the only under-age inter-county grade in the future.

If that comes into effect, starting next season, for example, it would mean Cork having the distinction of being the last All-Ireland champions at U20 and minor (U17) in football.

“We've not heard anything definitive yet, apart from a new U19 grade being recommended.

“The way I look at it is that there was an expert group put in place which has come up with this recommendation.

“Brian Cuthbert was on that and I believe there is rationale behind it. If they reckon that is the best way to go forward, then it's something that has to be given serious consideration.

“As an association, we tend to sometimes hang on to things for sake of tradition.

“Sometimes we have to be brave and make changes that will be beneficial. It obvious needs serious consideration and debate from all sides,” the Cork chairperson added.

Meanwhile, Cork footballers will encounter a familiar face in next season's Division 3 league game following the appointment of Rory Gallagher as the new Derry manager. He was with Fermanagh this year, drawing with Cork.

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