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GAA President has his say on Christy Ring Cup score and Laois sub controversies

“If there are guys going in there and they are officials to do a job, that’s fine, but they should do their job.”

GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail.
GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

Updated at 08.00

AOGÁN Ó FEARGHAIL is satisfied with how recent controversies involving the Christy Ring Cup final and the All-Ireland SFC qualifier involving Laois and Armagh have been handled.

However, the GAA president says there’s an onus on officials to ensure they’re carrying out their roles accordingly in order to avoid future difficulties.

A replay was ordered in the Christy Ring Cup final earlier this month after it emerged that Meath’s one-point victory over Antrim should actually have ended in a draw as the final score of the game had been recorded incorrectly.

The teams met again at Croke Park last weekend, with Meath prevailing by the bare minimum for a second time, but on this occasion there was no disputing the result.

This Saturday afternoon in Portlaoise, Laois and Armagh will square off for the second time in a fortnight after they were forced to replay their Round 1A qualifier as a result of Laois using seven substitutes in their 1-10 to 0-10 win at O’Moore Park on 18 June.

“They are very different issues — both issues,” Ó Fearghail said yesterday at the launch of the GAA’s 1913-1923 Online Digital Archive at Croke Park

“If you take the second one, the county chairman in Laois admitted, ‘Look it, we made a mistake and we are taking it’. County officials need to know — we let enough of them in, maybe too many on the sideline — and if there are guys going in there and they are officials to do a job, that’s fine, but they should do their job.

In the case of the substitutions, the onus is very clearly on the county to know how many subs they have brought on. They should know that. They made a mistake, and if they made a mistake it has to be rectified, so I think the system worked well for that.

“The issue of the Christy Ring Cup final, I think it’s how you deal with a mistake that’s more important in life and there was a mistake made by the referee. He admitted that. It is up to officialdom to get involved and see how you do that.

“Do you ignore it? I think we addressed it as fairly as we could. The game did end in a draw. The game was replayed and Meath won back to back Christy Ring Cups in the same year.”

Despite acknowledging that an error from the referee was responsible for the issue that arose from the Christy Ring Cup final, Ó Fearghail doesn’t believe additional officials should be introduced to alleviate some of the pressure that referees encounter.

“It’s a team effort,” he said. “Some people look for more officials and I don’t agree with that. We don’t need more officials, but we do need a team. If you have two linesmen, a referee and four umpires, that should be sufficient and it does work well most of the time. That was one mistake that you are highlighting in relation to Meath.

Kevin Meaney and Joe Mc Elroy Armagh and Laois will meet again on Saturday. Source: Tom Beary/INPHO

“I have spoken to the chairman [of the referees' committee], Sean Walsh, and I have emphasised to him the need for constant training with these guys, particularly at inter-county level, for working together as a team. There is a need for it always. Everyone needs to be improving their game, but they don’t need more officials.”

Asked if Laois should have been fined instead of forced into a replay, Ó Fearghail said: “That’s a CCCC [Central Competitions Control Committee] matter. I can’t and don’t interfere with that. They look at all sides, they look at the options. That is the decision they came up with and I respect their wisdom.

“The key thing is they dealt with it. That is what I would be keen about; that if something is there, it is dealt with. They went with the rule, they considered everything and that is the decision they came up with. I don’t interfere with CCCC decisions in the sense of advising them in which way they should go, but I do advise them that they should be fair, open and honest.”

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