McEnaney's helmet worry
ADVANTAGE RULE:PAT McENANEY, chair of the National Referees Committee, is concerned the compulsory use of helmets in hurling is leading to an increase in dangerous, head-high challenges.
“In the past couple of years, I think the widespread use of helmets is leading to a situation where it’s become more acceptable to hit at head height,” he said.
“I’m not saying that this is pre-meditated or that players set out to do it, but the helmet does seem to give a bit more freedom to make challenges like that.
“ I’m not saying that as criticism of helmets, which are compulsory, but it’s something we need to be aware of and give yellow cards – and red cards depending on the ferocity – when necessary. It’s not just hurling either. We’ve asked referees to watch out for all challenges around the neck area.”
The former All-Ireland referee has also made no secret of his belief the GAA should adopt an advantage rule, which would give match officials the opportunity to allow play to continue long enough to see if an advantage accrues.
In Cork on Sunday, Offaly referee Brian Gavin was caught both ways by the current rule. He played advantage for Cork and they lost the ball whereas Tipperary were awarded a free after creating a goal chance, which John O’Brien finished to the net.
McEnaney feels the rule should be changed to allow referees a short interval to asses the situation.
“It can be difficult in hurling because the game moves so quickly but I think once a player is fouled a number of times he should get a free because there’s no advantage in letting play go on.
“We need to look at it more closely. I’m on the record about this and proposed it to the Football Review Committee.
“I’m talking about just a two- or three-seconds window, not anything as long as in rugby which is a more static game and allows a referee to delay his decision for quite a long time.
“But that couple of seconds would allow a referee in hurling and football to see how the play has developed and then use his judgment as to whether there’s an advantage.”
Asked would it not be a good idea to direct referees to award the free immediately and eliminate any ambiguity, McEnaney said there was scope within the rules as they apply to make a judgment call in certain situations.
“I’ve looked at a number of clips and one stands out from the Galway-Offaly (Leinster hurling semi-final) when a player is goal-side in possession but being pulled back. The referee delayed just long enough to see that he couldn’t continue before awarding the free.”
Nonetheless McEnaney accepts that not all situations are as easily resolved and the balance of advantage isn’t as clearly evident in the immediate term. He says referees discuss possible rule changes on an ongoing basis and would consider proposing an advantage rule be implemented to the standing committee on the playing rules established at last year’s congress.
“There’s a few things to look at but look, things take time.”