Johnno on ref performances + more match coverage

There’s an interesting interview with Johnno in today’s Indo where he calls for the assessments made on referee’s performances to be made public.  He does so in light of Joe McQuillan’s spectacularly awful performance the last day but, in doing so, he’s at pains to point out that he’s not holding the ref, the bollix, accountable for our defeat by the Royals.  I think most of us would share that view, even if those howlers did on Sunday result in a ten-point turnaround in Meath’s favour when the game was in the mix, but Johnno is well within his rights in putting the case for a bit of transparency as regards what the GAA itself thinks about how match officials perform.

It’s noteworthy, I think, to contrast Johnno’s call with the points made in Sunday’s match programme by Mick Curley, who is currently the Head Buck Cat of refereeing within the GAA (this piece is on page 61 of the programme, just in case you didn’t feck your copy into the canal on the way out the last day).  While he does say that referees welcome constructive criticism, he prefaces this by the following, and to my mind extremely defensive, set of posed questions where he says:

… has it ever occurred to any GAA followers how so many people are experts in the job of refereeing without ever having done the job themselves?  I have to confess that I know of no other profession where people consider themselves experts in the art, even though they have never done it Would you feel confident to instruct another to do a job having never done it yourself, or to comment on their performance in such circumstances?

Well, pardon me for breathing there Mick, but, yes, I would.  Sunday’s performance by Joe McQuillan (and his linesman and his umpires) was a complete and utter joke and was littered with errors from start to finish.  You don’t need to have reffed a match (which I actually did on one occasion – but not in this part of the world and it’s not a story to be elaborated on now) to recognise and comment on the series of fuck-ups we all witnessed the last day.  Like that first ’45 to Meath.  Like the ridiculous yellow card handed out early on to Trevor Howley.  Like the double-hop for the first goal. Like the goalie carrying the ball across the line.   Like the line ball that should have gone to us.  Like the incredibly charitable penalty award.

From what I gather, there would have been some lad with a clipboard somewhere in Croke Park evaluating this performance and I think it would be useful to see what the official view on it is.  As Johnno says, if players and the lads on the sideline are perceived to have performed badly, then there are consequences. It would be nice to think that the same rules would apply to those whose actions can, and do, alter the course of matches.  Referees in soccer are now, as Johnno points out, held to account for their performances but this obviously isn’t the case within the GAA.  If they were, Joe McQuillan would be back officiating solely over U14 matches up in Drumlin territory for the foreseeable future.

Regular readers will know that crap refereeing is one of my bugbears but I’ve seen so many execrable performances from refs over the past few years that I know it can’t just be me.  We had the same clown in charge against Galway in Salthill back in 2007 and he was equally poor that day.  We had Bannon in this year’s Connacht final, we had that Hughes lad from Armagh for the league game against the Dubs down in Ballina earlier this year where I spent the afternoon laughing with a few Dublin supporters about what his next crazy decision might be.  We had that Reilly guy from Meath last year for both the qualifier tie with Tyrone and the All-Ireland minor final replay and he was equally bad (not in any way biased, just bad) on both occasions and we had that eejit from Fermanagh who denied us victory against Kerry at the first attempt in last year’s minor semi-final.  And that’s just off the top of my head, there are plenty of other examples too.

Multiply that by the experiences of other counties in this area and you’ve got a tsunami of shite refereeing on your hands.  Sorry, Mick, but I don’t think that calling for curial deference is the way to go on this one.  Johnno’s right – it’s time to cast some light on this whole shadowy area.  Better still, it’s time to deal with under-performance by match officials – it’s not like they’re public servants who are under the protection of those beardy denizens in Liberty Hall or anything.  Have at them, I say.

Talking of tsunamis, there’s a whole deluge of coverage on Sunday’s match in the Mayo News.  I know, I know, you’ve read enough already – so have I, I’m just the guy providing the handy links to the relevant articles for the masochists among you.  Here they are (the links that is, not the masochists – this is not that kind of site): Mike’s match report, Mike’s analysis, Sean’s analysis, Kev’s soul-searching, Ed’s Johnno quotes, Ed’s Killer quotes and Trevor’s fan’s-eye piece.   Do what you will with it – had we won, we’d all be drooling over every last sentence but it’s always harder to read stuff about the bad days.  Harder to write too, hombres.

9 thoughts on “Johnno on ref performances + more match coverage

  1. as a mayo man living in meath, I am taking this defeat particularly hard….some genuine meath supporters realise that the “penalty” and the paddy o’rourke incident were a balls-up by the officals one and all.

    but how long can this bad reffing go on…these are CRUCIAL decisions in huge matches ((for both counties I might add-I was at the meath-limerick match and that young little ref from armagh was atrocious for both counties and in particular meath))…mick curley needs to get off the soapbox and get all managers and refs in a room and thrash out what the f**k is going on…

    we speak about the fact that all we want is consistency…well we sure are getting it…consistently shite reffing!

    (((sorry bout the rant WJ – no need to publish this if you’d prefer not to…..)))

  2. From my vantage point in the stand on Sunday and again later as I watched the Sunday Game, something occured to me in relation to the penalty award.
    The corner forward did really well as he caught the high ball driven in towards goal. O’Malley contested and tackled the guy with open palms in an unsuccessful attempt to disposess the forward who managed to swivel and got away a cracker of a shot that rebounded off the crossbar back into play.
    Only at this point did the ref spread his arms wide apart and whistle to signal a penalty. Had the ball entered the net, would he have ordered the retaking of the shot from the penalty spot. I do not think so.
    He effectively played an advantage similar to rugby when play is allowed to proceed for some time after an infringement. When a better outcome cannot be gained from playing on, play is called back and a penalty is awarded from the original position. Not so in Gealic.
    In any case O’Malley did not foul the guy. It could be crearly seen that he used open palms only and at no time did he grasp or hold the forward. Rough justice on Liam to be shown a yellow. The award of a penalty was farcical and was undoubtably the key turning point in the game coming as it did just after O’Shea had scored an excellent goal for Mayo.
    The farce turns to comedy when you see the incorrect sideline call that preceeded this passage of play. Mayo ball that should have been driven down in the direction of Hill 16 and enemy territory. And we were 4 points up at that point.
    All in all Meath have a good strong team throughout the field and will also benefit from others returning to the team eg S Bray, Shane O’Rourke & Kevin Reilly. I think they are worthy semi final opponents for Kerry and I think genuine Mayo supporters will wish them well.
    And our day WILL come.

  3. mc I think we can all understand how you feel especially living in the Royal Plains at this moment.

    ACCOUNTABILITY is the word, refs need to be made accountable.

  4. Totally agree about the Galway game, the workrate was spot on, even if we never killed the game off. Has to be said though, that its Galway, and if theres any county we have to raise our game for, its the derby vs the tribesmen.

    Im just wondering WJ what are your thoughts regarding Aidan’s comment in the WP “In the run up to the game, there didnt seem to be any complacency in the camp. Maby subconscioulsy there might have been a small bit, but I honestly dont think there was”.

    Would you think that this is the talk of a team who is mentally ready of accepting the challenge of playing Meath and what it would bring? Is this a quote that would suggest that Mayo were ready to do what ever was nesessary on the day (like Meath Did) to win a place in the semi-final? Finally would you hear a Tyrone, Kerry panel member ever say any of the above?

    Im sure the lads were fired up on the day of the game, but in my humble opinion that quote suggests to me the mental prep and single-mindedness,drive and focus (which leads on to actions on the pitch such as putting it absolutly on the line, esp when the game is getting away from you) in the week leading up to the game was not right.

  5. Hard to know, Peewee, I guess after-match quotes can be read in different ways but he did, I suppose, say that he honestly didn’t think there was any complacency amongst the players. (Not like David Heaney in 2006 who, if I’m not mistaken, said that the team didn’t expect to lose to Kerry by as much as it eventually did). You’re right, though – it would be difficult to imagine somebody from Kerry or Tyrone saying something like this, though in the latter case I find that you’d need the subtitles on, just to be sure you’d caught it all!

  6. Yes read that too and thought “WOW they really were not tuned in” as a county I think we got badly caught out, sure even John Finn’s piece in the match program is hardly focused on the job in hand but then being honest who was, and when all about them were thinking AI SF are we that surprised. That complacency must seep through it shouldn’t but probably did! There was no such certainty around the county with the Galway game and it showed in the fight in our boys, how they became so tuned out and especially having made such a positive start beggars belief.

  7. I think you can read too much into after-match ‘quotes’. I actually thought Kilcoynes words were of a lad showing a maturity and a determination to get on with it next year.
    Really though, and I hate saying this, but you still have to question are Mayo truly putting their bodies on the line in these games? Maybe they think they are, but it doesn’t appear that way. One thing for me the last day, more so than the last 10 minutes, was after the first 15 mins or so when I really felt that after going 4 points up and they didn’t even have a shot at goal that that was the real opportunity to drive it home. We were almost in as good a position as Kerry were at that stage in the game the week before, but whereas they seemed to actually up the ante further, we just relaxed on our lead and suddenly they were in the game. I think that’s one trait all the better teams have is that once they get the upper hand they can really go for the jugular. Similarly we should have had Galway but we conspired to almost loose that game. I honestly can’t ever recall us really doing that against a decent team.
    Two more points to finish, 1) its noticeable that Mayo tend to revert to playing as individuals when the pressure comes on – this needs to be eradicated – mayo need to start using their collective worth rather than the sum of its parts as Tyrone do. Indeed that’s what Meath did the last day. 2) despite all the suggestions down through the years about who should be on the team / panel, by and large I think the best team / panel of ‘footballers’ have been representing Mayo. However, I’m increasingly thinking that in the modern game that always picking your best ‘footballers’ or automatically taking through the stand-out players of our underage teams is not the best strategy. Maybe it’s time that we started to look at individuals that will slot into the collective model that is needed to give the right balance of physicality, aggression, work ethic, speed and skills. Also, Man for man (with the odd exception!) Mayo always have the type of lads that you would love your daughter to meet! My point is, maybe we are too ‘nice’. If you added a few Paul Galvins, Ryan Mcmenameon, Kevin Hughes or the likes (not better footballers than we have), but would they make much of a difference to our team? I think so, and there must be a few of those around in Mayo

  8. Most of the comments to the recent posts reflect the ongoing frustration that is part and parcel of being a Mayo supporter. They are all genuine people who have thought out what they are saying but they all come up with the same conclusion: we just were not good enough last Sunday!

    And this frustration is even more acute when we had been the clear favourites to progress. But – spade a spade time and all that – we weren’t good enough.
    True, we missed Barry Moran and his replacement TP (a midfielder) didn’t get to grips with the role. True, Killer got injured and so did Aidan and DH eventually ran out of steam. And of course, the ref – don’t get me started! But we weren’t good enough.
    It didn’t matter that Killer was having a stormer until that collision that he had under the Hogan – I was in the Cusack and the sound of the crash reached me. It didn’t matter that Higgins was playing out of his skin, that Andy was covering enormous amounts of ground. It didn’t matter that (from where I was sitting) Ger Cafferkey was having a good day – he only missed two balls in the entire match. It didn’t matter that Trevor M was finally playing a leader’s role up front and was playing a lot of good ball into the full forward line. It didn’t matter that Dillon was back to nearly his best, we weren’t good enough!

    You see, this is the problem. Some of the lads clearly were good enough. Others struggled – for a variety of reasons. But who was completely cleaned out? Hmmmm… no one springs to mind! So where were we not good enough?

    Well Keith’s man got too many scores, as he did in previous games – but then playing a half back in the corner gives that result. And in the other corner, MV and later LOM gave it everything but were sometimes caught for tightness. PG and Trev H had hard jobs on their men, but for most of the contest they were breaking even. OK we lost a lot of ball at midfield, but we also did that against Galway and in the second half against Roscommon and we were good enough in everyone’s eyes after those games. And Ronan is still only a few weeks over a broken jaw. And even though Heaney has been limping for at least two years, he did well for 50 mins. Pat Harte has had better days, but then these days were not the ones when he was suddenly asked to play full forward after 10 minutes and although Aidan didn’t seem to be having the impact in earlier games, he got 1-1 from the limited amount of quality ball that came his way. And the TP experiment didn’t work, but then he is a centerfielder, not a full forward.

    But we knew all of these things before Sunday and we still thought we were good enough. And if one of the dodgy decisions had gone the other way and we had sneaked over the line, would we still be good enough in our own eyes?

    It’s time for some hard facts. Let us first look at the players:
    1. In 2006, M&M scoured the county for the best footballers and came up with most of the guys that had been there the year before with a few new guys + K O’Neill. In 2007, Johnno did the same and got the same result with a few coming up from U21. That was repeated last year and this year, again with the same result. On that basis, the guys we have are the best available.
    2. There isn’t one of them that goes out to lose a match – ever! These guys put their entire lives on hold for Mayo football. They train till they are blue in the face, they give everything they can to the cause. They are totally committed.
    3. They are much closer as a unit than they were 3 years ago. At pitch level, you can hear the motivation, the leadership, the support for each other.
    4. They are one of the biggest squads in the country – just look at the stats if you don’t believe me.

    So if that is the case, we have the right players and given the size of the county, they should be good enough. So maybe they are not being trained properly? OK, let’s explore that one:
    5. In Jim Kielty, they have the best fitness coach in the country.
    6. Their skills training is second to none.
    7. The A vs B matches try out all the options at full pace.
    8. John O’Mahony is regarded as one of the best football brains in the country.

    Given the resources available, they are as fit as and as well catered for as any other squad in the country. So we should be good enough! So what the hell is the problem? Let’s go back to things that are not working:
    9. Ronan is struggling at mid field and has been ever since he was decked by Whelan in 2006. Then he had the health scare in 2007. There is a confidence issue here. A suggestion was once made elsewhere to play him at full back. I think that’s worth trying – his basketball experience makes him a first class manmarker. Put Cafferkey in the corner and T Howley in the other. I reckon that it would be the best FB line in the country.
    10. Keith is one of the best half backs in the country, but like all fast corner backs, HE IS TOO LOOSE. Swap him with T Howley or put him on the wing when Cunniffe comes back, but for God’s sake do not leave him in the corner.
    11. Barry is not a full forward, but for his club he is magnificent at midfield. Why not try it at county level and give him the No 9 jersey?
    12. We also need an enforcer at centre field – Trevor Mortimer in one of the best in the business at this role. Look at how Shane Ryan did this for Dublin. Give Trev the No 8 jersey.
    13. Harte’s best role is playing deep in the tidy-up role behind mid field and bursting forward with the ball. We were crucified last Sunday when we moved him out of there. Give him the No 10 jersey and let him revert this role again.
    14. And then get one more new man in the front line that can win ball and rattle the net.

    And yet, there were options similar to all of these tried out before (never all together mind) – but there is a piece of the jigsaw missing. And that is going for the kill. Others have pointed to it. Some say it is that we are too nice, others say that it is a fear of failure. I actually think that it is a fear of success. You see, it doesn’t usually catch us when we are behind – only when we are favourites or in the lead. There is a sense of an “Oh Fuck, what do we do now?” look about the team in these circumstances. We then revert back to form – play as individuals, try not to make mistakes and display a fragility that lets the other team back into it. Then we do this even more when the other team senses our uncertainty, resulting in a collapse that we are all familiar with. And when we are behind, the problem goes away and we up our play again.

    So what do ye think? Does this theory hold water or am I talking through my hole again? If it is feasible, how can it be dealt with? Lots of red meat? Promises of the 15 virgins? Hypnosis?

    Or a chance to win an ALL-IRELAND MEDAL????!!!!!!!!!!!

    Not good enough? I don’t buy it!

    Keep the Faith!

  9. Hi FourGoal – superb stuff as always. I don’t buy it either and I think there’s plenty of grounds for optimism despite Sunday’s unexpected exit. I think we’ll start next year at a better position than we’ve been able to do over the last few years and I’m hopeful we can push on from there. We have to hope, don’t we?

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