OPINION: Criticism of Johnny Murphy is unfounded and unfair

14 March 2004; A Galway player places the sliothar for a free. Allianz Hurling League 2004, Division 1A, Round 3, Galway v Clare, Pearse Stadium, Galway. Picture credit; Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE *EDI*

WHEN Limerick’s premier referee Johnny Murphy was appointed as the man in the middle for last Saturday’s All-Ireland quarter-final between Tipperary and Galway, there was little made of the appointment for the Gaelic Grounds clash.

As things played out, Galway came away with a one-point victory to set up a clash with Limerick in the All-Ireland semi-final this weeekend.

In the aftermath of the game, Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy, criticised the decision to appoint Murphy with the winner likely to face Limerick in the last four.

“There are loads of referees from various different counties and I just think there was no need to have the situation we had today.

“It should have been a Leinster referee in my view but I have no complaints.

“Ultimately, the best team with the most scores at the end of the match won but a small bit of common sense in the approach to appointments, like there are loads of referees from Leinster and everywhere else.

“I do think a little bit of understanding and not trying to compromise people and put them in positions where various counties are still left in the championship it just makes things a little bit trickier.”

On last nights ‘Sunday Game’, Donal Og Cusack also questioned the appointment as he said, “I’m surprised the GAA appointed a Limerick referee with Limerick in the semi-final”.

Certainly, the sending off of Cathal Barrett would have angered the Tipp contingent and many would argue the first yellow giving to Barrett was soft.

However, an All-Star corner-back should have known better than his showing for the second yellow card where he gave Murphy no choice but to brandish the second yellow and subsequently the red after reckless use of the hurl on Brian Concannon.

In his Examiner column, retired referee Brian Gavin praised the performance of Murphy saying, “Johnny had a good game and seems to be getting more of a feel for the inter-county game.”

Former Hurler of the Year, Eoin Larkin, also challenged the ethics of Sheedy in questioning the appointment.

Furthermore, there was little reference to the fact that Tipperary native Fergal Horgan took charge of the Munster quarter-final between Limerick and Clare with the winners to face Tipp in the semi-finals.

Overall, Murphy had a good showing the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday and despite protests from elsewhere, it will certainly have enhanced his reputation within GAA quarters.

But, with John Kiely’s juggernaut rolling on, his opportunity to ref into the later stage of the championship may have to wait.

Nonetheless, there was no need for criticism from any quarters with the better team prevailing on the day.

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