Davy Fitzgerald has made a strong statement in the direction of referees, complaining that sharpshooter Shane O’Donnell is fouled too often, and not awarded frees.
The Clare manager was speaking to The Irish Independent in the wake of the Banner’s Munster Senior League victory over Cork yesterday.
O’Donnell’s goal was the difference in a 1-14 to 0-14 win in what was Clare’s first competitive win over the Rebels since the All-Ireland Final replay in 2013. Since then, Cork have been somewhat of a bogey team for Fitzgerald’s side, defeating them in the last two summers, as well as a comprehensive league win last year.
O’Donnell, the hero in September 2013, has been a marked man since his famous hat-trick. Last July in their qualifier defeat at Semple Stadium, O’Donnell was given extra attention by the Cork full-back line as Clare were playing a two man full-forward line. Despite winning a huge amount of possession, the young forward was only able to manage two points.
Fitzgerald felt that this is clear evidence that he is fouled too often, and the referees do not give him enough protection.
“He caught that ball today and he’s a savage ball player. But there is just so much attention on him and he’s being pulled constantly
“I looked at the DVD after the Cork game last year and I could pick three frees easily. If you look back you’ll see it and you could see it today.
“And I wouldn’t give out about the referee today because I thought he was very good. But that’s just the only thing that might need a look at in our view. In fairness, with the refereeing in general last year we can’t say anything. It was fair enough.
“I thought Shane did very well when he came on, he caught a great ball – I thought he was held up, how it was a free out I don’t know. It should have been a penalty, I thought.
“To me, he finds it very tough to get frees. I think it’s something that seriously has to be looked at, because that’s what happens every time he gets the ball. He’s just getting absolutely killed.”
It is early days, but the hurling season is truly up and running. The result of this game will be somewhat irrelevant should the two counties meet for the sixth time in four championships this summer, but nonetheless it is a positive for Clare who are in need of a big Spring.