Cracking contest, pity about the umpiring

I was out driving round Dublin 9 a bit after six this evening and as I made my way down Grace Park Road, I met a stream of Northern registered cars heading in the opposite direction, most of them sporting the proud red and black of the Mourne County. It would have been a pleasant jaunt back up the M1 for them this evening as they reflected back on their county’s first All-Ireland semi-final victory for sixteen years and started to make plans for a return journey to these parts for Down’s happy hunting ground that is the All-Ireland final.

Anyone who watched today’s enthralling All-Ireland semi-final will readily accept that Down were the better side over the seventy minutes and that in Marty Clarke they possessed the game’s standout performer (those 1/5 odds during the week on Bernard Brogan to win FOTY now look a teentsy bit mean, I reckon). Kildare never really recovered from the fusillade of points late in the first half that sent the Mournemen in five to the good at the break and although the Short Grass County were once again an improved outfit in the second period, they failed to narrow the gap quickly enough to give themselves a decent shot of snatching it at the death. Mind you, had Robert Kelly’s last-minute rasper made it to the net rather than cannoning back off the underside of the bar, it would have been a different story altogether.

Both teams gave it everything today and it was tough luck on Kildare, who once again came up short by a narrow margin. They will obviously be proud tonight about their team’s performance but they have also every right to be as mad as hell at the cretinously incompetent shift put in by Pat McEnaney’s team of umpires. It was bad enough that one lot waved wide a pointed shot from Alan Smith early on in the contest but the failure of the two clowns at the other end to spot the most blatant of square balls when Benny Coulter goaled for Down simply beggared belief.

The Lillies might well have lost had both of these decisions gone the correct way. And it wasn’t as if every dodgy decision went Down’s way: Eamon Callaghan took at least eight or nine steps before scoring Kildare’s second half goal. But what these decisions, in particular the square ball one, did was to alter the course the game was taking up until then. Kildare had started the brighter and were clearly dominating proceedings but the goal severely jolted them and, as they wobbled on the ropes, Down then went on to hit them with the barrage of points late in the first half that ultimately won the game for them. Would the half have turned out the same way if the umpires had done their job properly? It’s impossible, of course, to say for sure but I doubt that it would have done.

This is the second time this year that the outcome of a high-profile match has been largely determined by umpiring incompetence. Enough is enough: it’s high time that the arcane practice of allowing inter-county refs to take a carload of their portly drinking buddies with them to umpire matches is done away with and that umpires are instead chosen from the general pool of referees. While this move may not sort out all of the problems there are with umpiring, it’d nonetheless be a good start.

14 thoughts on “Cracking contest, pity about the umpiring

  1. Actually, I think that I heard on the commentary that the umpires were inter county refs, not sure if this is the case…..
    I guess that Cork would prefer to have met Kildare in the final, Down have the enviable record of never losing an AI final.

  2. I’m almost certain that this isn’t the case though I reckon it soon will be.

    Down’s AI final record is a huge plus for them alright whereas Cork are on course to equal our wretched record of five final losses on the trot if they lose …

  3. The linesmen are inter county refs, hence the grinning Joe McQullen running last years All-Ireland final line with his prefects smirk and perfect students demeanour reguarily getting players not to cross the white line for a sideline kick. Pity his own linesmen last year v Meath didnt exhibit the same eagerness or ability.
    The umpires are drawn from whatever the ref decides. Its obvious….given some of the horrendous calls over the years.
    Is this the same Down that I saw struggle the day Cork lashed us in the League final?
    What a player Marty Clarke is. McCartan has a game plan and the players believe in it. Clarke executes it on the pitch.We await with bated breath for a capo for ourselves. Get Micko and we will inherit another year of the deluded thinking that they are top class footballers despite 2 senior final thrashings and two league final kickings. Get Kearney or Horan and we will see the spoofers rooted out and a chance given to other lads who just might make it. I certainly know how they operate with those “stars” on the team and frankly its underwhelming. The players who have featured in the two Kerry AIF batterings , those were also scorched in two league final wallopings as well should be finally cut free. Its obvious that we gotta start from scratch and all they bring to the table is bad memories.

  4. The umpires behind each goal consisted of one intercounty ref and one person nominated by the match referee Pat McEnaney. The umpire that called the wide that was a point was none other than our good friend (!) Mr McQuillan. Isn’t it great to see the GAA being consistent in appointing our top referees to positions where they can continue to make fools of themselves :-).

    And as for the square ball and the 11 steps before the Kildare goal and throw up ball following the goal mouth scramble at the end. well the term “what do you expect from an ass but a kick?” comes to mind. But it was good to see that the Sunday Game crew picked up all of these last night.

    Having said all that, I really enjoyed the match. I had been thinking early last week that Kildare might win the All Ireland, but after reading An Spailpin’s piece on Thursday ( I began to get a feeling that Down might take them. And it showed that you don’t need 15 rugby league players to make up an intercounty football team.

    A welcome message for our new manager, whoever he may be.

  5. Yeah, they made a quiet change after the Louth debacle and one of the two umpires is now a ref. Seems to have made things worse instead of better, I guess there is a learnt skill in knowing where to stand, the right angle etc. Maybe it should be too experience umpires and a ref behind each goals, the ref watching general play inside the 14 yard line, square etc.

  6. Topic not related but does anyone know how K/more v Cross went? I got the rest of the results but can’t find that one.

  7. Thanks for the clarification lads re the umpiring situation. It’s now even worse than I thought – though I guess if you throw the likes of Joe McQuillan into a problem area, you’re asking for things to get worse!

    I knew Knockmore had beaten Cross but, while I was hunting for the exact score, I see Perseus has provided it – ta for that. By the way, yesterday’s other senior club QF results were: Shrule/Glencorrib 2-12 Charlestown 3-07; Castlebar Mitchels 0-11 Breaffy 0-09 and Ballintubber beat Ballina by 0-9 to 1-5. I was given a hot tip on the Mitchels by an informed source prior to the quarter-finals and I see they’re still in there now …

  8. Ballintubber, James Horan, hmmmmm……
    No inter county experience – James Mc Cartan anyone? Local lad, played for his county for many years, comes across as very articulate and passionate. Just got his county to the All Ireland final.
    Sounds alot like James Horan to me……;)

  9. With the technology that is available in Croke Park for replaying scores on the big screen there is no reason why this is not used for actually getting the thing right every time.
    Square balls penalty claims disputed scores fouls dives line balls could easily be called correctly and relayed to the ref, who already wears an ear piece, in seconds.Guys from every team in the country spend all year training hour after hour to entertain us and the least they should expect is fair calls by officals for, in some cases ,games that only come once in a lifetime.
    Now they`ll say it`ll cause too much disruption to the game but i think players deserve fair play and when you see the video ref used in rugby it doesn`t waste too much time,injuries certainly take up a way more time.
    I think this would also clean up the game ie.if a player makes a claim to a ref that is wrong, book him and that would stop that fairly lively.
    But i suppose all that would be too much to ask for seeing as soccer won`t do it and all the money thats at stake there and we never do anything in this country unless it`s tried out across the water first!

  10. The smoking ban was directly related to catholic guilt[its a sin to be really enjoying yourself]and they`re all pagans over there,and the plastic bags well they have no equivlant to John Gomless over there[will bringing home the turf with the jeep be seen as social demostic and pleasure or will it be seen as work when we have to sign the form in the garda station?] The thick plottens!

  11. Thats not very patriotic, sure didn’t we build that country for them with our bare hands, lol.

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