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Yes, it was a fine mess... but Mickey Harte had a point

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has come in for a measure of criticism in the wake of his post-match protestations following their Ulster Championship defeat to Monaghan.

However, a forensic breakdown of the stoppages in the quarter-final reveals that the Red Hands manager was right to question the amount of time added onto the regular 70 minutes.

Referee Eddie Kinsella judged the injury time to be two minutes. He played two minutes and 20 seconds before blowing up.

However, there were four instances of injury that Kinsella stopped for. In the 44th minute, Dick Clerkin contested a Monaghan kickout, collided with Tyrone's Kyle Coney and came down awkwardly.

Referees are instructed to stop the game for suspected head injuries and the game was halted for one minute and nine seconds.

Shortly after the restart, Clerkin was down again with another head injury when he went to skip inside Stephen O'Neill and again collided. This brought the time to two minutes and 10 seconds.

Two more head-high tackles resulted in stoppages. Dessie Mone was caught by Conor Gormley on 55 minutes and received medical attention. Then on 61 minutes, Mone himself caught Sean Cavanagh around the face.

All totalled, the time came to four minutes and 24 seconds, a time that should be rounded upwards by referees rather than down, making five minutes.

That total comes before the additional stoppages of bringing on substitutes, or even the length of time taken to deal with the three black cards in the second half, two of which – namely Darren McCurry's and Darren Hughes' – were highly dubious.

Other stoppages, which are not meant to be taken into account for adding time on, include Drew Wylie going to ground after he won a ball out in front of Stephen O'Neill on 63 minutes.

It also took almost a minute between the foul committed on Sean Cavanagh between a combination of Clerkin and Stephen Gollogly, until goalkeeper Niall Morgan reached the ball, addressed it and then struck it wide.

"The most frustrating thing (was that) he did not let that play finish when we could have broken forward and got the equaliser," explained Tyrone assistant manager Tony Donnelly afterwards.

He continued: "That was the cause of all that frustration and exasperation at the final whistle." However, no such rule exists that a ball has to go dead before whistling for full-time.

There had been an appetite to take the time-keeping duties out of the referee's hands in recent years and award it to the fourth official. Privately, referees are discreetly lobbying for such a move.

The Ulster co-ordinator of referees, Jim O'Rourke, yesterday backed up Kinsella's performance, commenting: "It's up to Croke Park to make these decisions and bring in a clock, there is nothing we can do about it."

He praised Kinsella, saying: "Eddie Kinsella came out of the match very well. It wasn't an easy game to referee. The two semi-finals won't be easy either. His performance was good."

A new 'hooter' style system, as used in ladies' Gaelic football and a concept borrowed from other sports such as basketball or Australian Rules, was trialled at the Sigerson Cup.

However, it was deferred for a season. In a recommendation paper released by the GAA at the time, it stated: 'There was definite confusion – particularly among spectators, but also backroom teams – as to what the clock should be stopped for. An explanation was sent to the teams but some did not digest the message.'

In the meantime, certain rules have to be implemented at next year's Congress to allow for the installation of radio link-ups with the fifth official and referee, the problem of teams running down the clock by substitutions and the finer details around whether a shot struck on the hooter could be legitimate if it results in a score.

Belfast Telegraph


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