Management of a football team is no easy job and looking at the results of last weekend there must be several of the present crop of county managers wondering is it worth the hassle. The pressure that comes with the territory far exceeds the thanks, the support or even the adulation that come with the good days or the great victories. Having said that wins enjoyed by London, Longford, Offaly and Donegal at the weekend allow for a sense of temporary satisfaction that, like the good weather, unfortunately only lasts a while.
However as difficult as managing teams may be it surely cannot be anywhere near as trying as refereeing and the pressure and hassle that comes with that particular job. I have been critical of referees in the past and no doubt will be again but some of the things that happened over the past weekend will do more to deter than to attract young, committed and enthusiastic people into the job.
Going home from the Tyrone game on Sunday while sitting in traffic we listened to the debate and discussion about the Kildare/Dublin match and the decision by referee Cormac Reilly to award the late free that resulted in a one point win for Dublin. He came in for much criticism from the pundits, supporters and “guests” and one even suggested that he had cost the Leinster Council a million euro.
I would imagine Cormac Reilly is finding things tough enough at the minute after the criticism he received following the Tyrone/Monaghan game and now this. What is worth remembering is that he made the decision as he saw it, just the same as Simon Brady did in Beragh last Friday night, and neither ref did so in the hope of attracting lots of unwarranted media attention. Indeed in Reilly’s case he would have been pilloried by some sections of the media had he not made the decision to award the free kick so to a certain extent he was in a no win situation.
Of course, unlike the studio analysts, the refs do not have the advantage of replays and slow motion. Refs must make their decisions in real time and at match pace and then hope that they call it right. Perhaps it is time to start making better use of technology to help referees in big games, or look at the other innovative ways of making the referee’s job easier. I have advocated for a long time that two referees with one operating in each half of the field might help somewhat. I know that idea is unpalatable with some people but to allow the status quo to continue will not improve the situation and will not help people like Simon Brady, Cormac Reilly or Martin Sludden. Referees are human and like the rest of us they will make the odd mistake or two but they deserve a bit more from well paid, highly articulate “professionals” who at times seem to be overly personal in their criticism of certain individuals.