By Niall Gartland
SPEAKING ahead of her team’s All-Ireland Junior final replay against Fermanagh this weekend, Antrim ladies’ boss Emma Kelly says she wishes referees applied the rule book consistently across the board.
The topic of physicality in the ladies’ game has bubbled to the surface following Meath star’s Vikki Wall’s controversial sending off in the All-Ireland Senior final against Kerry.
The Meath powerhouse is renowned for her physicality, but sometimes it counts against her when it comes to refereeing decisions.
Kelly points out that it’s forgotten that physical contact is permitted within the rules, as long as it’s accidental, so perhaps it’s an issue of referees not knowing the rulebook as much as anything else.
“The rule as it stands is there should be no deliberate contact. Vikki Wall gets done by referees because she’s more powerful, but unless she deliberately runs into someone, technically she isn’t doing anything wrong in the first place.
“Every ref is going to look at things differently, some are more lenient and it also depends on what Croke Park want clamped down on in any given day. It’s a pity as sometimes it takes five or ten minutes of a match to figure out what way a referee is actually going to adjudicate things.
“I know it’s a hard job and some games err on the side of too much physicality, especially if there’s male coaches involved as they’re less likely to know the rules on deliberate contact. Vikki Wall is an outlier and I remember some of the Cork girls back in the day were the same, so we need to have some laws governing contact, but it’s the lack of consistency that’s annoying.”