Photo: RTÉ (Inpho/Cathal Noonan)
This one has already got a run in the comments but, just for the record, it was confirmed earlier today that Maurice Deegan will be the referee for Saturday week’s All-Ireland final replay between our lads and Dublin. It’ll be the Laois official’s second decider – he did the 2008 one between Tyrone and Kerry and he was also in charge of our final against Donegal in 2012.
I’m told the standing protocol for appointing refs to take charge of All-Ireland final replays is that it has to be one of the linesmen from the drawn match. If that is the case, then it was a choice between Deegan and Cavan’s Joe McQuillan. A case of six of one or half-a-dozen there, to be honest.
I’m no fan of Deegan, a whistler who tends to be as weak as water and who was clearly influenced by Joe Brolly’s shite talk about us ahead of the 2012 final. But that’s all in the past and no amount of complaining – about that or the fact that, yet again, it’s a team of officials, the ref included, drawn mainly from the same province as one of the competitors that’ll be in charge of ensuring fair play – will change things. He’s the ref and we just have to live with it.
What we need to do, and what I’ve every expectation Rochy will get done as part of our prep for Saturday week, is to gather as much intelligence as we can on Deegan’s style of reffing and prepare accordingly. We’re facing into another teak tough and hugely physical battle, one where we’ll be looking to give at least as good as we get, so the players need to have a good idea in advance about how Deegan is likely to go on the big calls he’s undoubtedly going to have to make. Forewarned is forearmed, and all that.
At the end of the day, the rest of us looking on can only hope that the ref performs competently and that both sides get a fair shake off him. While we’ve had plenty of reason to bemoan poor officiating down the years, I feel that this year this hasn’t, by and large, been a problem for us in this respect. Conor Lane didn’t get every call right on Sunday but he got more right than wrong and if Deegan performs as well as him in the replay then neither ourselves nor Dublin should have cause for complaint.
Best of luck to Maurice and his team of officials in the replay.