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.