GAA Football

GAA should adopt policy of pre-match meetings with referees: Kernan

Ireland manager Joe Kernan believes the GAA should encourage meetings with referees. Picture by ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson
From Cahair O'Kane in Perth

JOE Kernan believes that the International Rules template of pre- and post-match meetings with the referees is the way forward for the GAA.

The Ireland manager will have a routine meeting with Maurice Deegan and his Australian counterpart Matt Stevic today to discuss issues from the first test ahead of Saturday’s second meeting.

Some of the Irish players said after the game in Adelaide that there had been some disparity between the interpretations of the two referees on certain incidents.

While pre-match meetings with referees are common practice in other sports, the only contact GAA teams generally have with their match officials is on game day.

“In fairness to the rules you’re able to meet the referees and we’ll be doing that tomorrow,” said Kernan.

“We’ll be showing a few clips from the video of what was right and what was wrong. Two years ago, we scored a goal and they gave us a penalty.

“The advantage was that the goal stood and we could have missed the penalty but we asked them here and they said, no – that was their mistake.

“I think [taking the idea back to GAA] is important and it’s something we’d be saying afterwards: that referees and players should meet.

“It takes out the ‘us and them’ if you can talk sensibly to someone before and afterwards. We all want to fight our corner but if there’s a middle ground we should all take that opportunity.

“But if you can’t discuss something with somebody, it’s very hard to ask a civil question on the field and not get a civil answer.”

There were also suggestions after the first game that the markings of the pitch in Adelaide Oval were particularly narrow in comparison to a standard GAA pitch.

Kernan alluded to the Irish camp having noticed it and admitted that they were perhaps naïve to have trusted that it would be full width.

“I’m sorry we didn’t get the measurements but we’ll certainly be measuring it tomorrow evening when we go out to the stadium.

“Whatever the rules say they (dimensions) are, it’s up to both groups to check and see that the rules are being followed. If it was ok, so be it but I just got a feeling that it looked a bit narrow.”

The former Armagh boss also hit back at critics of the International Rules series, and says that “I have never been more positive in my life” as he is about the second test.

“The fact that we have reinforced the squad (Darren Hughes and Ciaran Sheehan) and the fact that the sick boys are getting better is a great boost. The training sessions went well. The positivity is 100 per cent.

“People don’t realise how important this is to the players and us as management. This is probably one of the best things I’ve even done in my life. The fact that some people for some reason want to knock is strange. Every time the competition is held, there are people who want to knock it.

“It’s isn’t perfect or exactly the way we want it to be but it’s some thrill for everybody involved. Can we make it better? Of course we can. The fact that they are talking about America for a game will help.

“Any team I’ve even been involved with, they try to play attacking, skilful football. And we’re going to do that again on Saturday, even though we’re ten points down.

“We need to have a go early on. If we go another 10 points down the game is over so that’s the challenge to us as a group.”

The introduction of Hughes and Sheehan to the squad this week has coincided with the recovery of bug victims Enda Smith and Niall Murphy, both of whom have returned to training.

If they are both declared fit then Kernan will have to break bad news to someone as he will have 24 players, but is only allowed a matchday squad of 23.

“I didn’t take them out here just to be sitting looking out. We’re going to do another session to see are able to face the task that’s ahead of us, which is going to be tough.

“These boys will want to put our lights out early on and finish it. They don’t it coming down to the last quarter. We need who are fit and able to stand up to the challenge.

“We’re giving the two lads as much time as we can to see if they are okay. They’re getting stronger. There’s a big improvement in the two of them.”

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