Sunday 20 October 2019

RTE documentary showed referees in a different light

Tom Dempsey
Tom Dempsey

Tom Dempsey's hurling analysis

RTE television certainly nailed it on Monday night last with their wonderful G.A.A. documentary, 'All Ireland Day', which offered an inspiring behind the scenes insight of match day through the eyes of some of the key protagonists.

It was compulsive viewing as we were taken through the preparations of the people most closely involved. It was fascinating to gain the perspectives of the commentator, the Rock family and the young man who would play in the Artane Boys' Band.

The programme makers walked us through the emotions felt by young Cork man John Kerins and his mother as he prepared to represent his late father, John Snr., on the 25th anniversary of their 1990 All-Ireland triumph, and this was a sober reminder that there are more important things than sport in life.

When I was hurling I am not proud to admit that at times we placed the referee in the opposition category as somebody we also had to get the better of when playing games. Some may think this is a ridiculous statement but I do believe there was a gap in communication and respect between players and the men in black which invariably led to confrontation.

There has been huge work put in over the past few years to improve in all areas, and it would be putting it mildly to say that I was blown away by David Coldrick's micro-analysed performance in the Dublin versus Kerry game.

In a nutshell the programme has given me a completely different perspective on how referees try to operate and how difficult their job is. Coldrick's meticulous preparation and communication with his officials was incredible, at one stage running in the opposite direction to an incident and acknowledging a booking directed by a fellow official for the Dublin number four.

He was operating in a cauldron of intensity yet proceeded to make all decisions with admirable calmness, and the respect shown to and by the players was incredible.

Referees will not get every decision right and when explaining to Kieran Donaghy that he had not seen the gouging incident, the big Kerry man accepted the response.

Overall it was a great advertisement for the art of refereeing and emphasises that progress is being made, particularly with regard to the relationship between players and referees which is the key to good officialdom going forward.

The purple and gold jersey has lost some great servants to retirement over the past few weeks. I think it is a sad reflection that players in their late 20s and early 30s are choosing to call it a day, partly prompted I'm sure somewhat by the incredible present-day demands.

Rory Jacob has been one of the outstanding forwards in modern day hurling, playing in the main in the most difficult position in sport (on the corner). I just wonder could we have squeezed another year or two out of the Oulart man by re-positioning him to the midfield role in which he has been so effective of late.

Garrett Sinnott has also (prematurely in my opinion) decided to call a halt and his ball-winning abilities allied to his tremendous leadership will be a huge loss. Plagued by injury over the past few seasons, his county final performance suggested there is still life left in this great man.

A disclosure of bias should probably be declared when I speak of Ciarán Kenny whom I was privileged to play with, coach and admire during his wonderful career with Buffers Alley and Wexford.

Apart from his undoubted ability, he was the most positive low-maintenance individual I have come across in my time in hurling.

I was privileged to share a dressing-room with you 'Sambo' and proud of all your achievements in the purple and gold; thanks for everything.

Finally, the odds I secured on Oulart to win Leinster a few weeks back are looking more and more attractive. I might even buy John Nolan a mineral if they come through.

Wexford People

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