The Sporting Diary

with Sports Editor Peter Campbell

The Sporting Diary

The Murphy dilemma

In calling for more fairness from referees for Michael Murphy, Donegal manager Rory Gallagher has opened up a discussion that has been ongoing for some time. On Saturday last the Donegal captain was sent to the line after receiving a second yellow card at a critical stage of the second half against Dublin.

Whether Donegal would have won or secured a draw if Murphy had been, correctly, allowed to stay on the field, we will never know. What we do know is that Donegal are not the same team when he is not out there as leader.

Because of his size and strength he does get unfair treatment. The first yellow card, picked up in the fifth minute, was totally unwarranted. When the Dublin player lost control and careered straight into him there was nothing the Donegal captain could do. Indeed, if he had taken the hit and fallen backwards, it would have been a legitimate free in his favour as the Dublin player could have been accused of charging.

The referee saw it differently and wanted to lay down a marker at an early stage and Murphy suffered as a result.

Murphy’s sheer size and strength means that when he tackles a player or collides with them, it looks as if he is fouling, but surely he cannot be penalised for being big and strong?

By raising the issue, Donegal manager, Rory Gallagher, is probably thinking of bigger games ahead and of similar issues arising. Hopefully, when that happens Murphy will be refereed like any other player.

Team line-out

An old bug-bear of mine - the releasing of Donegal team line-outs - needs an airing again after Saturday night in Croke Park.

Donegal (and they are not alone) are working on the principle of not releasing team line-outs until the very last minute. However, it is embarrassing to hear the Donegal team being called out over the tannoy in Croke Park ten minutes before the throw-in and then five minutes later, two changes being announced.

The Donegal PRO was beside us in the Press Box in Croke Park on Saturday night and he was only made aware of the two changes after it was called out in the stadium. Yes, the PRO hadn’t got the team until close to 6.55 for the 7 p.m. throw-in.

It has been a similar pattern for the five or six years, but I just wonder what does it achieve? I can understand late changes if an injury occurs in the warm-up, but I think it shows a lack of respect for supporters that their team is not made available before the weekend. Team selection is always topical and having the starting 15 and even the panel of 26 available increases the interest and generates a certain amount of discussion which can only be of benefit.

But then it is only a personal opinion!

Harps penalty

The 1-0 victory for Finn Harps over Longford Town was a big victory on Saturday night. As I said last week, games against the teams that are more likely to occupy the bottom half of the table are the most important.

The victory was well merited as they should have had a penalty in the opening half, but if they do get another penalty, I would be happier to see Ryan Curran going for the corner rather than down the middle.

Some player is going to be very embarrassed one of these days when the ‘keeper makes the choice to stand his ground and have a very simple save.

However, it is onwards and upwards. Seven points from five games is a very good return. Good luck on Friday night against St. Pat’s.