Davy’s Fitzgerald’s outburst against Galway referee Alan Kelly following Clare’s National Hurling League semi-final defeat by Kilkenny has again placed the spotlight on refereeing performances.
I love the enthusiasm and commitment that Davy brings to his role as team manager, but he was out of order in his criticism of Kelly. It is time for Davy to drop the persecution complex.
It certainly was bad luck that a line ball in the second half was flagged for Kilkenny instead of Clare. Compounding Davy’s frustration was the goal from Matthew Ruth which followed almost immediately.
Blaming the referee was wrong as the incorrect call was made by the linesman. Fitzgerald also took issue with the lead up to Ruth’s goal when he alleged that Eoin Larkin had taken too many steps.
That was probably a marginal decision, but so too was the call against the Kilkenny captain in the first half when he shot to the net only for play to be called back for a free which was saved.
Alan Kelly is one of a small number of referees hoping to make his mark during the 2012 championship. To have any hope of handling a championship game he has to experience refereeing the closing stages of the League.
Kelly’s performance was not without error, but it was a competent display. Had Davy Fitzgerald not made an issue of his performance would it have been mentioned in any media report?
Once the criticism was raised, the referee assessor was immediately in the firing line, but I am convinced that commentators are placing far too much importance on the role of the assessor.
The assessment is appreciated by most referees as the individual undertaking the role is neutral and is only there for the purpose of giving the referee an honest reflection on his performance.
Referee assessments are just one of the criteria for appointing referees to games. From a hurling perspective the number of top referees available is limited.
GAA President Liam O’Neill has outlined a wish to get ex-players refereeing. It is an excellent idea and I hope he is successful.
Speaking of referees, I witnessed a fine exhibition of refereeing recently at a Kilkenny minor hurling league tie.
I was bemused at first to see a young man no older that the players dishing out the instructions.
But the young man was more than competent and excelled in all aspects of his officiating. It must be acknowledged that the two teams and their mentors showed due respect to the challenge the young man faced.
It was afterall, his first major name. We will see a lot more of James Barry. Well done James! This was a good start to what we all hope will be a long and successful career.