Tipperary great, Eoin Kelly, believes that the governing bodies within the GAA should stop pressurising referees to officiate hurling games more stringently.
Colm Lyons came under fire for his officiating of the Allianz League clash of Wexford and Tipperary with Liam Sheedy telling the media after the game that he felt his side were unfairly judged and deserved more frees in the second half.
Rather than point the finger of blame at referees, Paddy Power GAA Ambassador, Eoin Kelly, believes the fault is with the ‘hierarchy’ who are encouraging referees to blow their whistles more often.
“I hate going there, but a couple of decisions especially towards the latter stages of the game didn’t go Tipperary’s way when they should have.
“The ref gave a lot of frees in the game, and even the Cork v Clare game the night before the ref blew a load in that too. Referees seem to be under pressure to use the whistle at the moment. Last year we had a great Championship, so if it’s not broken, what are they trying to fix? Leave the game alone!
“Bar the goalline decision between Tipp and Waterford last season, referees weren’t being talked about at all and that was an umpiring decision anyway. Now we have them all over League Sunday at the weekend, what does that tell you?
“This is all coming from the hierarchy in Croke Park, but we want to see free-flowing hurling. Why are they trying to change the mindset of referees now? We had a referee-free summer last year. We don’t want to be talking about them and I’m sure the refs don’t want us talking about them either.”
One of the major talking points of that encounter in Innovate Wexford Park was the dismissal of Noel McGrath following two yellow cards.
While Sheedy had no qualms about the decision, many people, including the former All Ireland winning captain, felt that the second yellow card was very harsh and that Lyons was influenced by the crowd. Kelly also believes that the red card would not have been produced if it were a Championship match.
“I don’t think anyone will argue with the first yellow he got. The second yellow though was very harsh, the fact that it was under the main stand and right next to the Wexford management didn’t help either.
“The roar of the crowd can influence a referee too. Would he have been sent off for that in Championship? I don’t think so. It wasn’t even a high tackle”, Kelly maintained.
“If he was red carded for that in Championship you wouldn’t forgive the referee for it.”