Inside Track with John McIntyre
When some bookmakers – not the most charitable of creatures – are paying out on a Waterford ‘win’ in last Sunday’s Munster hurling championship encounter, you know something extraordinary must have happened at the Gaelic Grounds after their pulsating contest with Tipperary ended in deadlock.
Unfortunately, Galway referee Alan Kelly and his umpires were in the eye of the storm after awarding a ‘goal’ that never was to Tipperary late in the game, leaving Waterford players, mentors and supporters in an understandable high state of agitation and the match officials needing a Garda escort off the field.
The controversial incident happened in the 62nd minute when Austin Gleeson fielded a Jason Forde free at the second attempt under the crossbar, only for the umpire at the far post to inexplicably adjudge that the ball had crossed the line. Immediately after raising the green flag, he was surrounded by protesting and stunned Waterford players.
Kelly went in to consult with his umpires and allowed the ‘goal’ to stand. That shocking decision gave Tipperary’s stirring revival further ballast and, for the second week running in the Munster championship, ended up pulling off a stunning draw after their 14-men had trailed Waterford by 11 points as late as the 55th minute.
Mistakes and human error are part and parcel of life, but what happened at the Gaelic Grounds represented a terrible miscarriage of justice on Waterford. TV replays clearly showed that the sliotar never crossed the line and also that the umpire in question was scrambling to have a proper line of sight of the incident. How he could have awarded a goal in those circumstances beggars belief. And why didn’t the other umpire, who was nearer Gleeson and had a much better view, contest the decision more vigorously?
We have some sympathy for Kelly in the circumstances as he had to take the word of his umpires at face value. He doesn’t have access to TV replays, but it still wasn’t a good day for the Galway referee. Tipperary were left frustrated when Michael Cahill picked up a second yellow card on the stroke of half-time, but his hurley’s contact with DJ Foran, who had sold the corner back a sidestep, was completely accidental.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.