Biting Back: Criticising match officials will not cease
There was a whiff of slamming the barn door after the horse had long since bolted in the GAA's press release on Monday, but still it was most welcome.
At Saturday's Central Council meeting it was determined that 'CCCC now has the authority to withdraw sideline privileges from team officials who make derogatory comments in relation to a match official before a game or in interviews subsequent to a game. Previously, suspensions were the only penalty that could be proposed in these instances.'
Of course, we know where this comes from. When Kilkenny manager Brian Cody can label the decision of referee Barry Kelly to award Tipperary a last-gasp free at the end of the drawn All-Ireland final 'criminal', without any realistic fear of sanction, then something is broken.
It would have taken serious courage for the Central Disciplinary Committee to have made a finding that Cody brought the Association into disrepute over the comments. It would also have looked like petty dictatorship. We can only guess that they knew a change such as this was coming.
For some time now, referees have been chased and pursued by managers and players. Too many pundits and journalists struggling to find something worthwhile to fill a column have also used referees as a handy punchbag.
Criticism of matchday officials will not cease. Instead, it will become ever-more veiled and subtle. As much as some managers like to assert their masculinity by singling out a referee, they will not dare risk a penalty such as a touchline ban upon them.
Perhaps this might slow down the fetish for referee criticism. I, for one, am delighted with the ruling.