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Kilkenny boss Downey says referee 'will have to look at his own performance and judge himself'

Both the Kilkenny and Cork managers feel camogie’s rulebook should be altered to allow more physical contact.

ANN DOWNEY KEPT her cool in the post-game press conference, but the disappointment of another All-Ireland defeat was etched all over her face.

Ann Downey Kilkenny manager Ann Downey Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

12 months ago, Cork hit two late scores to steal the O’Duffy Cup from under Kilkenny’s noses, but this defeat might be even more difficult for the Cats boss to take.

The last two frees awarded to Cork by referee Eamon Cassidy were highly questionable. In a one-point game, every small incident is magnified.

Davina Tobin was whistled for charging on Hannah Looney in the 58th minute, which allowed Chloe Sigerson move Cork one clear with a booming free from inside her own half.

Denise Gaule clipped over her 10th score of the afternoon to bring Kilkenny level but Orla Cotter was handed the chance to win the game in the first of two minutes added time.

She was adjudged to have been fouled on the Hogan Stand sideline as she was surrounded by Cats defenders, much to the anger of the Kilkenny management team nearby.

Cotter’s free sailed between the posts to seal a 28th All-Ireland title for Cork.

“I’ve had a look at it in the dressing room with our stats people and, without criticising Eamon, definitely Orla was already falling,” reflected Downey.

“Our players were around her but hadn’t touched her. I thought it was a harsh enough free as you saw from my reaction on the line. I thought the free against Davina as well, there were two hard calls on us.

“Eamon will have to look at his own performance and judge himself, I’m not going to give out about him. It is what it is. It’s not going to be able to change the result, we have to be able to take it on the chin and move on.

“It’s disappointing and devastating for the girls. We’ve trained so hard, as hard as Cork did for the last number of months, to come out on the wrong side for the second year in-a-row by one-point and for what I would consider two bad decisions, but again it’s not all down to the referee.”

Orla Cotter celebrates with Hannah Looney Orla Cotter celebrates with Hannah Looney Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Kilkenny hit eight wides compared to Cork’s four, and Downey acknowledged that her side contributed to their own downfall.

“We missed too many chances as well. We had too many balls that fell into the goalkeeper’s hand. We missed a few frees and drove a few wides that we shouldn’t have.

“It’s not all down to a referee, it’s down to the game management when the girls get onto the pitch and on big days it’s hard to expect them to hurl the whole 60 minutes and use their brains.

“At times in the heat of battle you do things that you wouldn’t normally do. But overall I thought our girls were magnificent. Their hooking, blocking and work-rate. Probably just the finish let us down.”

Cork were awarded a contentious penalty early in first-half for a foul on Amy O’Connor, another call that frustrated Downey. O’Connor was initially hooked by Anne Dalton and as the ball dropped to the deck, Denise Gaule made contact with the Cork forward. 

After consulting with his umpires behind the Davin Stand goal, Cassidy gave the penalty. Was it a harsh call?

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“I thought that to be quite honest,” agreed Downey. “Again, we looked back on it and I think it was Colette got a flick of the ball and she never touched the player.

“But these things happen, a referee like the players is not going to get everything right. I thought maybe we came out the wrong side of a lot of calls.”

Katie Power The Cats have lost the last two finals by a single point Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The camogie rulebook is different to hurling. Shouldering and “moving into an opponent’s body” are both outlawed, making it very difficult for referees to judge what is a foul and what isn’t. 

Downey feels a change to the rules to allow camogie become more physical would benefit the sport.

“It is what it is and there’s nothing we can do to change it. Maybe the Camogie (Association) might have a look at it and decide that maybe they’ll get in James McGrath now that he’s free,” she quipped.

“He might do a coaching course or something with the referees – I don’t know. I don’t know what the answer is but I think maybe we’re just too strict on the whole physical thing and maybe too many soft frees.”

“Something will have to happen because it is a contact sport and physical game. A few times he had his hand up for advantage and no advantage accrued to us and nothing came of it.

Orla Cotter scores a late point Orla Cotter scores the winning point Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“That was a bit disappointing as well. It’s either an advantage or it isn’t and it’s up to the referee to call it back and give the free if nothing has come. That happened us two or three times in the second-half.”

Victorious Cork manager Paudie Murray agreed with that sentiment, calling for the rules “to be tidied up.” It was a game defined by frees and there was little flow to a contest where just nine of the 27 scores arrived from play.

“I didn’t see it (winning free) because I was trying to bring on a sub at the time,” said Murray. “We can all talk about the refereeing of camogie and does it need to be tidied up? Yes, it does. I’ve said that a number of times.

“I think the way the rules are at the moment makes it impossible for a referee to referee the game. Eamon Cassidy is probably one of the top two referees in the country but there is so much in relation to the contact area – what is a free? What isn’t a free? It’s next to impossible (to judge).

“If a player charges with a shoulder, it’s just impossible. I don’t think it’s going to change too easy. I think they have to – and I’ve said it before – that the rules have to change and go more towards the hurling and let contact be there.

“I certainly would think that the majority of players I have spoken to would be in favour of that and I think then you would have more of a flow to your game. We sit down with our players and talk to them about what they should and should not be doing and we try to train for it but it’s next to impossible.”

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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