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Referee Gough will take charge of All-Ireland final despite critics' bias fears

 

At odds: Kerry’s Darran O’Sullivan argues with referee David Gough after being black carded in the 2017 All-Ireland semi-final
At odds: Kerry’s Darran O’Sullivan argues with referee David Gough after being black carded in the 2017 All-Ireland semi-final
John Campbell

By John Campbell

The mantra of getting your retaliation in first would appear to be alive and well within the GAA.

Scarcely had the identity of the All-Ireland Senior Football finalists been known than doubts were being expressed about the capability of David Gough, one of the candidates in line to referee the match, to actually take charge of the game.

The doubts centred on the fact that Meath native Gough resides in Dublin where he is employed as a primary school teacher.

It was being hinted that, given his location, he may not have been able to display the neutrality required for his role.

Among those calling for the personable Gough to be overlooked by GAA chiefs was former Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice, currently gaining status as a media pundit.

But the National Referees' Appointments Committee has not been swayed by what one official described as "outside influences".

It has now been formally confirmed that Gough, who has excellent credentials for the role, will be the man in the middle when Dublin and Kerry go head-to-head on Sunday, September 1.

In the eyes of many, the outcome of the game is a foregone conclusion, but with Kerry having commenced what will be intensive preparations for the clash on Tuesday night, there remains the possibility - but not the probability - of an upset.

Gough has shown himself to be a master of his craft of late and for this reason he fully deserves to officiate the biggest match of the year.

While this will be the 36-year-old's first major final, he is no stranger to the big match arena.

He took charge of the 2016 semi-final between the Dubs and the Kingdom and this year he handled the Dublin v Cork and Mayo v Dublin Super8 matches.

Gough is widely recognised for his ability to officiate in a practical and common-sense manner and he generally allows play to flow.

Two well-known Ulster referees, Barry Cassidy (Derry) and Sean Hurson (Tyrone), along with Cork whistler Conor Lane will be Gough's assistants on All-Ireland final day.

This is fitting recognition for Cassidy and Hurson, who between them have taken charge of numerous high-profile matches this year and shown themselves to be very capable officials.

Indeed, Hurson may well have found his services more in demand had Tyrone not made such substantial headway at Under-17, Under-20 and senior levels.

Several referees have come under fire over the course of the Championship season for what is regarded as their erratic application of the black card rule in particular and an inability to decide the precise amount of added time that should be played, among other issues.

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