DUBLIN boss Pat Gilroy believes referees need to be mindful of certain inter-county players with poor disciplinary records being targeted by opponents, when it comes to adjudicating on incidents in games.
Speaking at yesterday’s press briefing ahead of tomorrow’s All-Ireland quarter-final meeting with Laois, Gilroy was responding to a question about Dublin attacker Diarmuid Connolly becoming embroiled in controversy during their Leinster semi-final win over Wexford after he was sent off for a striking incident.
Gilroy termed the offence ‘innocuous’ but on a wider scale revealed that he has been impressed by refereeing standards this summer and attributes the greater input of umpires and linesmen as central to those improvements.
“The fact that he (Diarmuid) gets talked about a lot and people can get targeted then that the opposition are going to do something to them just because they’re fellas who might have a name for something about that. They should be protected by the referees as well. I’m not just saying it for him. There are other players. Paul Galvin seems to be in a similar situation that a lot seems to happen to him that goes unpunished.
“Diarmuid shouldn’t have done it and he knows he shouldn’t have done it. But he was thrown to the ground just before that. You’d wonder why umpires saw him doing what he did and not that (what the other guy did). It was innocuous enough. I don’t think there was any malicious intent. In a lot of games people wouldn’t have been sent off for things like that.”
“Maybe the umpires didn’t see him (Connolly) being thrown to the ground just before but to be fair to the officials this summer there’s been a lot of interventions from linesmen and umpires which have been positive. There’s been a lot more talking between them.
“They’re wired up and they’re saying things to the referee all the time about different bits to watch out for. That’s just complete common sense and it’s working well. Generally speaking there’s been a lot less controversy in terms of the refereeing this summer than maybe last year.”
The general consensus is that Dublin have been favored greatly by the draw in pitting them with a perceived weaker opponent in Laois. But despite the number of messages Gilroy has received from people subscribing to that school of thought, he is on his guard facing Justin McNulty’s side.
“I’ve got a lot of messages saying it’s a great draw but it’s only a great draw if you win your game. You only have to look back at the last two years. People might have had a perception that Cork had got an easy draw with Mayo last year and the year before that Kerry had got an easy draw with Down. Both teams came from nowhere to beat them so we’ve had enough warnings of things like that.
“Physically against Meath they really put it up to them and they came out on top. Conditioning wise they’d be up there with the top teams. They’ve come on a lot in the last two years in that regard. Even from last year’s championship to this year’s league you could see they had got bigger.
“They have been developing a way of playing over the last two years that is starting to come together. I think the way they’ve been trying to play, it can take time to get used to what they’re doing. When you’re trying to get people back, get people funneling around the middle and it’s slightly off it can ruin things for you.
“We experienced something similar in the qualifiers in 2010 when we really started to get a handle on the way we wanted to play as we went through the qualifiers. The first game we still weren’t brilliant at doing what we were trying to do. I think they’re in a similar position to us (in 2010) and they are starting to get a feel for the way they want to play.
And Gilroy has pinpointed the influence of Colm Begley and Brendan Quigley, players with Australian Rules experience, as central to the progress of Laois.
“It’s good we’re not playing them in Aussie Rules as you can see by both of them, the kind of jumping that they do, has been honed from that. They elevate themselves to serious heights and athleticism-wise the two of them can reach a really good level.
“They are two guys that have to be watched. They have been central to the good things Laois have done and they are two exceptional footballers. I think they created an awful lot of the trouble for Meath last weekend.”