Close sidebar

Hurling Stars Have Their Say On VAR & Potential Officiating Changes


Another Senior Hurling Championship season has come to an end and while there is still much to discuss following Tipperary’s victory on Sunday, one major talking point is the use of Hawk-Eye. 

During the All-Ireland hurling final, a John Donnelly attempt was caught by the Tipperary goalkeeper, Brian Hogan, and he kept the ball in play. However, Hawk-Eye contacted the referee to indicate that the effort needed to be reviewed and the system deemed the ball to have gone over the bar.

The incident was further magnified as a similar one occurred in their semi-final battle against Wexford, however, on that occasion, John McGrath had finished the ball to the back of the net at the other end of the field by the time Hawk-Eye contacted the referee.

There is widespread confusion as to whether the technology tracks the flight path of the ball or if it can detect if the ball passes the goal line or the crossbar.

Speaking on the Sunday Game following the weekend’s victory, Hogan insisted that the ball had not gone over the bar when he caught it.

“Today, I was fully sure it wasn’t over, I wasn’t even standing on the line, my arm didn’t even hit the crossbar, so it definitely wasn’t over the bar today, I can assure you that.

“[My hand] hit the crossbar the last day but not today, today I wasn’t even standing on the line, I actually just caught it like a normal ball that came in.”

The main story to hit the headlines from the All-Ireland final, however, was the sending off of Richie Hogan for a high challenge on Cathal Barrett. Referee, James Owens, consulted his linesmen and the players before making his decision but many people remain adamant that the wrong call was made at a crucial stage of the game.

Add to that, further incidents across the semi-finals like Limerick being denied a chance to level the game in the dying seconds against Kilkenny with a 65 and Tipperary’s three disallowed goals – officiating has become the main talking point of the summer.

With the GAA being put under pressure to make changes in regards to the officiating in hurling, two suggestions are the introduction of VAR and the use of a second referee.

Pundit Arena consulted some of the top hurling stars in the country to get their opinions on the potential changes with mixed views.


Johnny Coen (Galway): “I wouldn’t be in favour of two referees. At the end of the day, referees are human and they blow their whistle on their opinion. Some referees give more frees than others as they want to let the game flow. So if one ref wants to let the game flow and have hard tackles being hit and the other ref is blowing for frees there is no consistency.


“VAR is a tricky one because what exactly will it be used for? We already have hawkeye and in fairness to refs, they are being scrutinised by an assessor every game they officiate. Will VAR overturn a decision like over carrying or handpassing. Or is it just incidents relating to penalties and goals? Either way, I’m not for it.”


Mark Kavanagh (Laois):  “I wouldn’t be too pushed on making many changes to the game and I definitely don’t think a second referee will work. It’ll only increase the inconsistency in calls made, I think.

“VAR could be an option down the line but a lot of work would have to be put into it. I don’t think the game needs many changes if I’m being honest.”


Alan Cadogan (Cork): “The game has constantly changed and evolved over the last number of years. The speed of the game is after taking on a life of its own and it’s very difficult for referees to get all the calls right.

“Maybe it would be worth trying a second referee and trialling it in the National League 2020 and then reviewing it once the league is over.”


Cian Boland (Dublin): “It is a difficult one because if you were to implement a referee in two halves, it is likely that they would have different styles of officiating, which would lead inconsistencies of refereeing in either half of the field.”


Croke Park were quick to defend referee Sean Cleere following the Tipperary-Wexford game but no comment has been made regarding Hawk-Eye as of yet.

Read More About: , , , , , , , , , ,

Author: Marisa Kennedy

Marisa is a Digital Journalist with Pundit Arena. You can contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter