Naomh Conaill’s victory over Glenswilly in their senior semi-final the other week was somewhat overshadowed by the unfortunate ending to the game.
Glenswilly were adamant that more injury-time had been indicated than what was actually played by the referee.
Understandably, Glenswilly felt extremely hard done-by afterwards and the match referee was at the centre of their frustrations.
The incident brought back into focus the performance of match officials at games here in Donegal this season.
And it brought me back to a conversation I had a few weeks back with a former player and now club volunteer who wondered if the time had come for the County Board to consider inviting ‘outside’ referees into Donegal for important championship games.
His argument was that some referees here in this county have been officiating at matches for so long now that in some cases, they have become overly-familiar with clubs here, and more importantly individual players.
He gave an example of one particular senior club player who reckons that a certain referee has been booking him since was playing U-10s.
But are ‘outside’ referees something that’s worth considering? Would bringing a match official say from Sligo or Tyrone into Donegal be a good thing for football here?
I raised the idea this week with one of Donegal’s most experienced match officials and he wasn’t warming to it at all.
He gave a number of reasons why he felt it wouldn’t be a good move - and first and foremost, he said it would be a ‘kick in the teeth’ to local match officials who are good enough to referee games here all season, but might then be overlooked for an outsider when it comes to a big championship match.
He didn’t agree with the point about referees here being overly familiar with players, and argued that it’s actually a benefit to everyone if a match official knows the players well, those on the sideline, and those in the club.
He also wondered how a referee from say Sligo or Leitrim would manage when taking charge of a game here where the quality of football is much higher at club level.
And if it came to it, he also didn’t fancy the idea of being asked to referee a match in Derry or Tyrone where the intensity levels are often higher again.
It’s an interesting debate. I’m not sure, but I think it’s an idea that might have been considered (and perhaps even tried out) many years ago. I’m led to believe it was also tried out within club hurling here some time ago too.
For now though, it seems, clubs and referees here will just have to get on with things the way they are.