McGrath the man in the middle for replay


REFEREEING APPOINTMENTS:JAMES McGRATH’S appointment as referee for the All-Ireland hurling final replay on Sunday week is in keeping with GAA policy.

McGrath replaces fellow Westmeath man Barry Kelly, despite many expert observers noting the latter’s excellent performance in the draw between Galway and Kilkenny on September 9th.

Since Pat McEnaney refereed both the All-Ireland football final in 1996 and subsequent replay, when Meath finally overcame Mayo, the law makers have opted to change the head official after a draw.

McEnaney, widely considered one of Gaelic footballers greatest ever whistle blowers, showed red cards to Mayo’s Liam McHale and Meath’s Colm Coyle in the initial stages of the 1996 replay after a mass brawl.

Come the 2000 football final replay between Kerry and Galway, McEnaney was replaced by Brian White.

“Barry Kelly clearly did an excellent job but the policy was brought in for good reason,” said GAA operations manager Fergal McGill. “It was a case of avoiding familiarisation as fellas were able to pick up little tricks and habits from the referee in the drawn game.

“It is not a law, and Barry’s performance the last day certainly gave us pause for thought.”

The last time an All-Ireland hurling final finished in a draw between Kilkenny and Waterford Gerry Fitzgerald from Limerick also took control of the replay.

Fitzgerald famously sent off Dublin’s Lar Foley and Tipperary’s Tom Ryan in the 1961 final.

Another interesting aspect of McGrath’s appointment is that he refereed this year’s Leinster final between Kilkenny and Galway. However, such was Galway’s dominance that day, not much can be taken from his performance.

McGrath also refereed the National League final between Kilkenny and Cork but, again, this passed without any major criticism of the officials, mainly due to Kilkenny’s dominance.

Kelly has been retained as a linesman with Cork’s John Sexton named stand-by referee and he will also run the line. James Owens from Wexford is the sideline official. The umpires are Tom McNicholas (Lough Lene Gaels), David Hennessy (Lough Lene Gaels), Johnny Fitzpatrick (Lough Lene Gaels and David Clune (Delvin).

Alan Kelly from Galway is to referee the minor final replay between Tipperary and Dublin with Cork’s Cathal McAllister and Garrett Duffy from Antrim acting as linesmen and Kilkenny’s Seán Cleere the sideline official.

Meanwhile, the match officials for the All-Ireland Ladies Football final between Cork and Kerry on October 7th were also announced yesterday.

Down native Gavin Corrigan will take charge of the senior final between Cork and Kerry.

Carlow’s Pat Kehoe will referee the intermediate final between Armagh and Waterford with Séamus Regan from Roscommon taking charge of the junior final between Antrim and Louth.

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