A big weekend of action off the field as much as on the field for the GAA, and as these things have a way of happening, the decisions at the Congress were acutely highlighted on the playing pitch on Sunday.
The introduction of the Black Card next January will arguably be a major upheaval for the sport, but as Derek Crilly commented after Louth’s defeat to Derry in Drogheda, new rules are not the biggest problem.
“I think everybody watching here saw what happened”, stated Crilly. “Yesterday we had a decision made on black cards, I think they should maybe look at the refereeing instead of looking at cynical play. You know, I think if the refereeing is done right then that takes away a lot of the problems. It was very frustrating looking on.”
On Sunday a contentious and costly refereeing decision befell Crilly, it only adds to his belief that change is needed in the way the current rules are being enforced by the man in black.
“Even the penalty I conceded, I don’t think it’s anywhere near a penalty. If the referee is going to guess the decision from 50 or 60 yards out, well that’s his problem.”
But despite his ire at the decisions, the Gaels man knows his side failed to perform on the day. It leaves the Wee County out of contention for promotion, while also looking nervously over their shoulder at the drop zone below.
“We can’t blame the referee, he was bad for both teams, but it’s disappointing when you put so much effort and then a couple of key decisions go against you, explained the Louth half back.
“But, like I said, we can’t blame the referee, we should have killed that game off when we were coming back from seven or eight points behind. I think everyone saw the performance, I don’t think I need to saw anymore than that.”
The one remaining fixture left for Louth to guarantee their place in division two is against lowly Longford in two weeks.
For Crilly and the rest of the panel it means there’s still something to fight for on the final day of league action.
“Every year we’ve played, there’s always something to play for in the last game, so we just have to get our heads right. At times today we played well, but we just have to learn to kill teams off. Next time against Longford is another opportunity to put in a performance.”
The sending off of Mark Brennan was costly for the Wee County on Sunday, considering they were chasing the game and had the wind to their backs, Crilly was proud of the fightback from his team mates, but knows full well the age old problem of not playing for the full 70 minutes is killing them
“I didn’t see what happened with the red card, but we showed good character coming back from seven or eight points down, but we just couldn’t keep it going until the end”, stated the Gaels man.
“We probably left a wee bit too much to do after the first half and when they got a couple of scores early on in the second half I think we were eight points down.
“We came back well, but again they broke down the field and got a couple of scores and then just kept the ball for the last five minutes, which was very frustrating to play against”, added the Louth half back.