If it is any comfort to Down’s Aidan Brannigan, he is unlikely to be the last player to be hit with a retrospective ban during the course of the Championship season.
Brannigan misses Sunday’s Ulster semi-final against Monaghan now that the Central Competitions Control Committee has served him with a one-match suspension following his punch on Fermanagh’s Martin McGrath during the quarter-final.
Referee Syl Doyle and his linesman both failed to spot the incident but it was clearly picked up by television cameras and, under rule, the CCCC can then act retrospectively.
The cameramen’s expertise in highlighting incidents of violent play which might otherwise go undetected combined with the work undertaken by referees’ assessors are serving to markedly improve refereeing standards.
A former high-profile Ulster referee has come out strongly in support of the assessors’ role.
Mick McGrath, who was appointed to the high-powered National Referees Committee, said: “I know that we have had controversial decisions in big championship matches which have been highlighted on television and that’s disappointing but when you look over the past six or seven years there is no doubt in my mind that the standard has been raised.”
Recently-retired Monaghan whistler Pat McEnaney is chairman of the National Referees Committee.
McGrath added: “Refereeing standards in Ulster are good but this does not mean they could not be better. We are striving to achieve this in both football and hurling.”
But he admits that there is now huge pressure on whistlers to get the “major decisions”, as he puts it, correct.