Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Time for the TMO

Into stoppage time in the Rugby World Cup final, Ireland trail the All Blacks by four points.  Brian O’Driscoll goes over the line, it looks like a try.  The referee is not so sure, stops plays and promptly signals to the TMO to help him with the decision.  After a tense wait, the try is awarded and Ireland go on to become World Cup Champions. 
Andy Murray is on championship point in the final of Wimbledon against all the odds.  He challenges a decision.  After the replay, the point won by Nadal is taken away, Murray wins the next point with a fine smash and he is Wimbledon champion.
Take away the TV referee element and neither situation could have occurred.  I know GAA is not a professional sport, but the level of commitment put in by players is near on professional. 
Strict diets, early morning gym sessions before work, watching videos of goals conceded, hours practising free kicks away from squad training and not being able to take the wife and kids to Majorca due to the club championship being refixed.  Welcome to the life of an inter-county player, not that much difference between Henry Shefflin’s level of preparation and that of Johnny Sexton, between Robbie Keane and Bernard Brogan.
For the most part, players are not looking pay for play, but want to ensure that medical bills and travelling expenses are paid to them.  Another thing they strive for is fair play in return for their sacrifice, in turn for the part they play in our games.

In recent times too many teams have had games taken away from them by incorrect referee decisions.  Yes the referees are allowed to make mistakes, I think players are not disputing that, everyone is human.  However, if a system can be put in place to help officials it can only improve our games, it must be explored.
The technology is there to show replays, as nearly all games at inter county level are televised.  In fact in Croke Park you can watch the game on the big screen, apart from when there is an off the ball incident, then all you’ll see is an advert for a Toyota Avensis!
Kildare’s goal against Donegal last weekend, Joe Sheridan’s disputed goal against Louth in 2010, Graham Geraghty’s goal this summer that wasn’t allowed to stand.  Too often it happens.
In 2007 Ulster Minor final a shot from Tyrone player Cormac Arkinson that went wide was awarded as a point.  It was obvious that there was very little between the teams.  Going in at half time I asked the linesman could he not do anything about it, he insisted he had no control, even though he had a better view, it was the referee’s decision.  We got the match DVD from Setanta for our video analysis.  The ball was wide and we lost the game by a point.
With the level of preparation that goes in, I think the TV Match official must come into the game.  There is too much at stake.  It could be limited to 3 challenges per game for each team and only used for disputed scores, square balls and sendings off.  It wouldn’t slow the game up that much.
After all the players and managers are using stats in games now to improve their decision making process.  Is it not about time that referees could do the same?  The stakes are too high not to consider it.

No comments: