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Spotlight will be on Kinsella's decisions during Donegal and Kerry showdown

By John Campbell

The choice of referees for certain championship matches this year has caused surprise.

And now that it has been confirmed that Laois whistler Eddie Kinsella will take charge of the All-Ireland football final between Donegal and Kerry on Sunday week, more surprise has registered, particularly in Ulster.

Kinsella will remember his last visit to the province for all the wrong reasons.

That was when he officiated at the Monaghan v Tyrone Ulster quarter-final at Clones back in mid-June.

It might not have been one of his best days, but his embarrassment was compounded when the normally unflappable Tyrone boss Mickey Harte took grave exception to Kinsella's failure to play what he felt was the appropriate amount of added time.

Harte's ire was understandable. His team were one point adrift at 1-12 to 0-14 and pressing for an equaliser when proceedings were brought to a premature halt.

Known for his stoic presence on the touchline and his willingness to always shake the hand of opposing managers and players in the immediate aftermath of a game, Harte sought to confront Kinsella for what he – and a lot of other people – felt was a costly error.

He was dissuaded, though. But Harte's reaction nonetheless emphasised the gravity of the situation.

When Kinsella strides into the middle to take charge of matters between Kerry and Donegal, he will be entering a throbbing cauldron where there will simply be no margin for error.

However, human error is part of all sports referees and doubtless the affable Harte has since come to terms with the setback that both he and his side endured back in June.

For Kinsella, though, the acid test is yet to come in the most demanding arena of all.

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