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Let referees get on with their job: Cooney

By John Campbell

Sligo referee Martin Duffy will be very much in the spotlight when he takes charge of the Ulster championship quarter-final between Donegal and Cavan at Kingspan Breffni Park tomorrow.

At the end of a week in which GAA President Christy Cooney has felt it necessary to come out publicly and defend referees, Duffy and his fellow whistlers will come under the closest scrutiny.

Syl Doyle and Cormac Reilly have been heavily criticised for the manner in which they handled the Meath v Kildare and Tyrone v Monaghan fixtures last weekend and now the GAA hierarchy is anxious that further controversy should be avoided.

There have been calls for referees to strike up an even greater understanding with their umpires and to bring more clarity to their decisions.

Cooney has appealed to fans not to be over-critical of isolated incidents — a clear reference to the decision of referee Doyle to disallow what looked like a perfectly good Meath goal last Sunday and Reilly’s red-carding of Monaghan captain Dick Clerkin in the match against Tyrone.

Cooney said: “Let's not just isolate a single incident. Referees are human — they are capable of making a mistake. There will be questionable decisions in every match.

“It depends where you are sitting, where you are looking at it or whether you are for or against the team in any decision — whether you felt they were wrong or right. So let's not blow this out of proportion.

“There has never been so much training going on for referees, umpires and linesmen. Every umpire has gone through a rigorous weekend of review and training and tests, and they have all been certified to a standard,” points out Cooney.

“There's not an issue around that. We'd be very happy. We got challenges with regard to our umpires last year and we responded to that and so did the National Referees Committee.”

The process of appointing referees for major matches is exercising the minds not only of the National Referees Committee but also those within the higher echelons of the GAA.

With more matches being shown live on television, referees’ mistakes are being amplified and highlighted to an embarrassing extent.

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