Tommy Dunne says it is madness for GAA to ignore technology
Tipperary coach believes referee’s need every help from a hurling version of soccer’s VAR
Tipperary’s Cathal Barrett lies injured following the incident with Richie Hogan that resulted in the Kilkenny man receiving a red card. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
It is “madness” for the GAA to ignore technology. That is the view of Tipperary coach Tommy Dunne in the wake of an All-Ireland hurling championship littered by refereeing errors mainly caused by the increased speed of the game.
“We all understand the refereeing situation and how difficult it is,” said Dunne. “It is very, very difficult.”
Tipperary progressed to the All-Ireland final despite having three goals disallowed against Wexford in the semi-final.
“The Wexford game was bizarre,” said Dunne. “There is no point in saying otherwise. And you have to take it on the chin. Some days, the decisions fall your way. Other days, they don’t.
“Officials try to do the best they can. And it is impossible to get everything right, it really is. But it is certainly time to look at giving them the functional support that can make a difference to them so they have eight or nine out of 10 rated games as opposed to decisions that they are getting wrong and are costing games to teams. I am not saying it will ever be a 100 per cent, but surely it can be closer to 100 than it is now.”
Dunne is an advocate of introducing a hurling version of the video replays used in most American sports, rugby union and most recently VAR in soccer.
“I think there has to be a technical component to it, where they can look at the decision on a replay and make the decision based on that. Having to make an off-the-cuff decision on something they may not have seen is madness in ways.”
Gaelic Games already have a video referee in place, via Hawkeye, to decide upon the legitimacy of scores which Dunne believes could be expanded and trialled in early 2020.
“Yeah, absolutely. Let’s try something during the league and let’s see.”
Richie Hogan’s red card in the 33rd minute of Sunday’s All-Ireland final caused consternation on the sideline with Kilkenny manager Brian Cody, despite being close to the incident, stating he did not see the contact. It wasn’t until the fourth television angle that viewers at home saw Hogan’s elbow catching Cathal Barrett’s head.
In these situations confusion reigns for supporters in Croke Park as nobody in the stadium could rewatch the collision – as a rule, the big screens do not replay controversial incidents – leading to a stream of anger on social media.
“I saw the incident from where we were, which was straight down the line,” said Dunne.
“And at the time, it never even crossed my mind that it was going to be a red card. I was coming back out from the field and I saw the red card being issued and I thought, ‘wow, there must have been something there that I didn’t see’. So I can understand why there was confusion because a lot of people wouldn’t have seen that incident, depending on where they were sitting.”
Also, the All-Ireland final’s interruption by Hawkeye to award Kilkenny’s John Donnelly a point after Tipperary goalkeeper Brian Hogan caught the sliotar over the crossbar surprised the 2001 hurler of the year.
“That was something new to us as well, to be honest with you,” said Dunne. “The Hawkeye system is in place but we weren’t aware that play could develop and it could be called back after play had developed. That was something that caught us by surprise.”
An alternative to increasing the use of technology a second referee could be added to an already eight strong team of officials (two linesmen, four umpires and the sideline official).
“Players are driving the ball over 100 metres,” referee Barry Kelly noted on The Sunday Game. “I was never a fan of a second referee but I am beginning to come around to the idea. It’s taking the referee seven, eight seconds to get up to the play.
“The second referee is on the agenda now.”