Seán Moran: Waterford were robbed but human error happens

Jason Forde’s goal for Tipperary was clearly not over the line but little can be done now

Waterford selector Dan Shanahan confronts the umpires after the game. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Waterford selector Dan Shanahan confronts the umpires after the game. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Controversy like that which swept through the Gaelic Grounds, has an unfortunate tendency in the GAA to disadvantage the afflicted. The herculean efforts of Derek McGrath’s Waterford to set aside the various injury woes that had beset them after their first championship week deserved better on Sunday in Limerick.

That’s not just aspirational piety. The goal awarded to Tipperary in the 62nd minute simply shouldn’t have stood, as camera angles confirm that Jason Forde’s dropping free was caught clearly outside the goalline by Austin Gleeson. There was even a further question of a square-ball infraction.

The goal stood and another score for Tipp, a point by Ronan Maher, caused further controversy when referee Alan Kelly overruled his umpires, who on this occasion had disallowed it.

On RTE Radio’s The Marty Squad, former Tipperary Hurler of the Year Lar Corbett criticised the fact that his county’s entire season could come down to such marginal calls, as Tipp would have been all but done in this year’s championship but for scraping the draw.

Waterford, however, have a stronger case for their year having been potentially sabotaged by a patently incorrect call.

Unfortunately this is the reality of organised sport, which relies on human arbitration for the vast preponderance of its adjudications. Technology has played more of a role in recent years and within the GAA, Hawk-Eye has been used to make decisions on the validity of points.

As such it would have had no role in the goalline decision although it could have affected the Maher point.

When the Leinster football final was decided by another egregious error in 2010, it was again the underdog who lost out with Louth, on the verge of a first title in 53 years, losing to a plainly invalid ‘goal’.

Much of that aftermath was taken up with Meath getting brow-beaten about offering their opponents a rematch, a mechanism – still in existence – that was last used in 1995 when Laois offered Carlow another chance after one of their scores was shown to have been wide.

With a fortitude much criticised at the time, Meath held firm in hanging on to the Delaney Cup.

In the ultra-tight scheduling of the modern provincial hurling championships, it would be hard to see where a refixture might be accommodated even if the Tipperary county board were of a mind to offer one – such offers have to be accepted by the provincial council.

The new round-robin format makes it even more complicated, given that other counties may well have an interest in any such outcome.

It may well be that Waterford will have to accept that this particular injustice won’t have a remedy.

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