Controversial ref Deegan steps back into eye of the storm
The man who found himself in the eye of a storm following the Ulster final will be very much in the spotlight again on Sunday when Donegal take on Dublin in the All-Ireland football semi-final at Croke Park.
Laois referee Maurice Deegan incurred the wrath of Derry fans when he failed to award a penalty after substitute Emmet McGuckin had clearly been the victim of a frontal charge close to the Donegal posts in the second half of the Clones showdown.
To add insult to injury from a Derry perspective, Deegan did award a penalty to Donegal from which captain Michael Murphy scored to send his team on the path to victory. And it was the tale of the penalty that was and the penalty that wasn’t which dominated practically all the post-match analysis, comment and debate.
Derry manager John Brennan was particularly scathing in his criticism of Deegan, suggesting that the non-awarding of a penalty to his side for the tackle on McGuckin had a major bearing on the outcome of the game.
Deegan also took charge of the Donegal v Antrim Ulster championship opener, by common consent one of the poorest matches in the competition for some time.
Deegan’s appointment to take charge of Sunday’s semi-final is significant for two reasons. It sends out the message that the GAA authorities and more precisely the National Referees Appointments Committee are to all intents and purposes happy with the manner in which he controlled the Ulster final, and it also cements the belief that Cavan’s Joe McQuillan may get the honour of refereeing the All-Ireland final.
Deegan is one of the most experienced whistlers on the inter-county panel right now. He handled the 2008 All-Ireland final between Kerry and Tyrone as well as taking charge of the Ulster final replay in the same year.
McQuillan’s star has clearly been in the ascendancy of late and he is expected to be given the All-Ireland final on the back of some very accomplished performances in major matches this year.