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I long for the decline of the skittish umpire.


IT'S eight years now since the biggest sporting travesty I've witnessed - and incidents like it are still happening.

We don't need to go back into the nuts and bolts of what happened with Louth and Meath in 2010 other than to say that a strong umpire or two could have averted all the anguish that went with it.

The same applies to last Sunday's Waterford-Tipperary hurling game, when an umpiring gaffe robbed Waterford.

It was the umpire in the worst position that actually made the call and he was clearly mistaken.

But it was compounded by the fact that his colleague - who had a much better vantage point and made no gesture whatsoever to suggest Austin Gleeson had carried the ball over the line - didn't overrule him.

The way in which umpires are chosen is as unsatisfactory now as it was in 2010. Despite that outrageous decision back then, the GAA hasn't done anything meaningful to change this process.

Essentially, the referee picks his own umpires. They often travel together to games in the same car because the umpires don't get mileage allowance that the referees are afforded. This has been the case for many years now.

Human error will happen but you would have less of it if there were up and coming, independent referees acting as umpires in these intercounty games.

If that was the case then I'm absolutely convinced that these sort of incidents would not be happening.

Again, the umpire who was better placed should have made the decision when the referee came in to discuss the incident. That, in turn, would make it much easier on the umpire who made a genuine mistake.

As things stand, who would want to be an umpire? It's a very difficult role and they get nothing for it, only a meal on the way home.

The job is much less enticing than that of a linesman, who is appointed centrally from Croke Park and gets the same expenses as a referee.

At intercounty level, a referee has to quit when he's 50, yet there are no such limits for an umpire.

That's ludicrous and not good enough for players, team management or supporters. I must say, however, that the class Derek McGrath showed after the match was extraordinary. I don't know how he did it as it's extremely difficult to keep your counsel after a miscarriage of justice of that magnitude.

Another irritant from last weekend was Cork hurler Seamus Harnedy calling for the ref to revert to Hawk Eye at Pairc Ui Chaoimh - only nobody thought to implement it when building the new stadium.

The GAA should have taken ownership of umpiring appointments long before now. What other elite sport would have up to 80,000 watching as crucial decisions are made by individuals selected by the referee with little or no official training behind them?

The GAA must respect umpires on the same level as referees and linesmen. It's not fair on them, since they have a much harder and much more pressurised job to do than that of the linesmen.

Umpire in the worst position made call in Waterford tie


ALL OF A SLUDDEN Joe Sheridan's 'goal' back in 2010 led to ref Martin Sludden needing an escort off the pitch

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Jun 9, 2018
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