While there’s no doubting the fact that the superior outfit prevailed at Fraher Field on Sunday last, it was difficult not to observe the game without taking issue with how it was officiated.
All afternoon long, Kerry referee Padraig O’Sullivan made some questionable calls. Sadly, the days of referees using common sense appear to be long gone. It’s difficult to shake off the notion that some referees are hellbent on impressing the assessor sitting in the stand in the hope that enough ‘gold stars’ will see him inch closer towards refereeing games with a national profile.
The conditions on Sunday dictated that common sense ought to have been availed of by the referee. Driving rain and a strong wind meant that players would go to ground a lot more than usual and therefore come into contact with the ball along the ground, something the Kerry official was quick to punish.
O’Sullivan’s biggest and most controversial calls came in the closing phase of the game. With six minutes of the hour remaining Tom Barron was denied a clear-cut penalty when his side were 2-10 to 0-09 behind, but play was waved on.
Of course, there was no guarantee that the spot kick would be converted or that it would have spurred on the Deise champions to get fully back into the contest but one wonders what the referee saw – or didn’t see – what the 1,200-odd spectators inside the ground must have seen.
On the hour mark came an even more controversial call. O’Sullivan correctly pulled James McGrath to task for a foul and rightly gave him a yellow card but followed it with a red even though McGrath had not been booked prior to that incident.
Darren Guiry went to the referee and told him that he had been booked earlier in the game, but the Kerry official was not for the initial turning, as McGrath was ordered to the line.
But within seconds the referee went to the line and invited McGrath back onto the field of play. playing.
And if that wasn’t a strange enough call, moments later O’Sullivan blew for a foul committed by Jamie Barron, and issued him with a yellow card, but the issuing of the yellow was not followed with a red. In the eyes of those around me, the inter county hurler and two-time All-Star had previously received a yellow card. Was it a case of the Kerry official making up for his earlier mistake and knowing that the game was over as a contest at this point?
Whatever motivated some of the calls made by the referee on the day, one thing is for certain; he did not have a good day in the office, and was the main point of conversation with many leaving the ground. And this is happening far too frequently nowadays in Gaelic Games.