We have to look beyond the referee for solution

You would think after being unbeaten after the first three games of the National League that most people would be happy but sometimes results can actually hide the truth.

You would think after being unbeaten after the first three games of the National League that most people would be happy but sometimes results can actually hide the truth.

We did well to fight back and get a point against Sligo; we were the much better side when we played Tyrone but we all know that they will be a different opposition in a couple of months time.

Against Kildare last Sunday we had a game that was littered with frees, poor kick passing, poor handling and played with thirteen defenders and two forwards on both sides.

I have no doubt people who were at the game would expect me to be critical of the performance of the referee, but let’s take a look at it from his side. Every time a player anywhere around the field got possession of the ball he was tackled by three or more players that left the referee with no option but to give a free.

How many times did players touch the ball on the ground? How many times did players grab their opposite number’s jersey or togs? And there were a few tackles on both sides that were definite frees so I don’t give in to the idea that the referee spoiled the game in any way.

Both teams played the game in a negative manner; get possession of the ball in their back line, work the ball up the field with hand passing and then when you’re in range of the full-forward line let the ball in but the only problem is that the other team have nearly everyone behind the ball at that stage.

I once heard our forward line described as Piccadilly Circus at rush hour. Then the referee will have somebody sitting in the stand ticking all the boxes to make sure that he is technically correct with all his decisions. He is not worried about the ebb and flow of the game or if the game is entertaining or not; tick the box, that’s all that matters.

Remember this is the third game in-a-row that we have all been critical of the match officials’ performance so instead of blaming someone else all the time, maybe we should take a long hard look at the way we play the game.

But it’s not fair to say that all the games played at the weekend lacked the entertainment of that was on show in Letterkenny. We do play a certain style of football that is not good to watch but will that bother us if we keep winning? No, as long as we are winning then the manager and his players are doing the job that they were put there to do but there might not be many watching it.

Maybe I’m being too harsh but if we are going to be a major force we have to add a number of things to our game. We have plenty of good players in this county and we have a manager and management team who are dedicated to the cause and knowing them they are only interested in winning.

A number of weeks ago I suggested that we put more long ball into our full-forward line but over the last three games I’ve come to the opinion that both Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden are too similar in type and Michael Murphy should be moved on to the forty to give him a greater freedom.

Also he would provide much needed height and strength in that area. Last Sunday our back line kept a team who only lost by a point in last year’s semi final to six scores; the defending part of our game is spot on but we have to improve our scoring numbers especially in tight games.

Jim Mc Guinnes will be happy to remain unbeaten but he will not be happy that we didn’t see out the game in the last few minutes. I thought Neil McGee, Karl Lacey and Kevin Cassidy played well and showed great leadership throughout the game; Rory Kavanagh and Michael Hegarty both did well when they were introduced but young Mark Mc Hugh, for the second game running, was outstanding.

The farcical ending to the Vocational Schools final paints a poor picture for the way this competition has been run for years. At one time this final would have been the opener for the National League final; now it’s fixed for a club ground on a Saturday afternoon and the referee couldn’t even get the score right.

We allow rock stars, soccer, rugby and even American football into Croke Park, yet we can’t accommodate the stars of the future. Good luck in the replay.