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Ref Deegan admits he 'got it wrong' in All-Ireland final replay

By Declan Bogue

Maurice Deegan, who took charge of the All-Ireland final replay, admits he regrets not sending John Small off with a black card.

This a rare admission of culpability given referees do not speak publicly or to the press.

"From where I was positioned, I knew he was after tackling Andy Moran. We're wired up and all that type of thing. I went to the linesman and he didn't see it properly," he said.

"If I had anything from that match, that's the regret - that I didn't black card John Small."

Deegan, along with Conor Lane who took charge of the drawn final, have warmly welcomed the introduction of the Australian Rules 'mark', which will be implemented for the first time this Sunday in Crossmaglen in the O'Fiaich Cup.

Derry's meeting with Armagh will be the debut of this rule - trialled before in 2009 - and Deegan and Lane are hopeful that it will add to Gaelic football.

"What I think it will stop are melees around the middle of the field, like when a ball breaks and four or five lads are there - one lad will catch it but straight away he will have four or five around him," added Deegan.

"What will happen now is when the free is given with a mark it will stop all that. So the ball will move on quicker."

Lane echoed those sentiments, stating: "I hope it frees up the game more and keeps the game moving. I don't think you can look for problems, I don't think there will be problems with it really.

"Once he gets the mark he has five seconds to keep the ball moving. Keep it simple."

A perception with the introduction of the rule is that it adds to the already overloaded duties of matchday referees, as witnessed by Sean Cavanagh who, when the Central Council approved it last week, tweeted: "Another difficult rule to interpret. This will be interesting. Who'd be a ref?"

Deegan wasn't shying away from that assertion, responding: "There is a lot there and I agree with you. Look, the important thing is that if we referee it right from the start and are consistent then there shouldn't be any issue.

"It's there to protect the high fielder in the middle of the field, basically. That's the way I'm looking at it.

"Plus you are bringing back a skill to the game, you are reintroducing high fielding - which has gone out of the game."

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