Gough gets to soften critics’ cough

The decision over who would referee the final sparked a great debate

DESPITE very vocal opposition from numerous Kerry supporters – as well as a former high-profile Kerry manager and at least one player – Dublin resident David Gough has been given the task of refereeing the Kerry v Dublin All-Ireland final.

Although he is a native of Meath, Gough (36) lives and works in the capital and concerns have been expressed that getting the role might put too much pressure on him.

Although he is generally acknowledged as one of the best refs in the game, the Slane clubman incurred the wrath of Kerry supporters in the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin in 2016 when he missed a blatant unfair tackle on defender Peter Crowley and it robbed Kerry of a possible opportunity to level the game.

He later apologised for the error but it didn’t satisfy many upset Kerry fans.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice: Appointing Gough would be an injustice
Aidan O’Mahony: It will heap pressure on the Dublin resident

Peter Keane’s immediate predecessor Eamonn Fitzmaurice, somewhat surprisingly, went on record after Sunday’s victory over Tyrone to say it would be wrong if Gough was chosen to take charge of the big game as he lives and works in Dublin.

He said he believed it would be “an injustice” and that, even though Gough would be trying to be neutral and impartial, it couldn’t be fair that somebody living and working in a place gets to referee an All-Ireland final involving that county.

Acknowledging that the Meath man is a very good referee, Fitzmaurice said there would be huge pressure on him as if certain calls went Kerry’s way in the final, he would be listening to Dubs telling him he denied them the five-in-a-row all through the winter.

Aidan O’Mahony, meanwhile, also objected to Gough taking charge of the final because it would heap pressure on him as he lives in Dublin.

“It would take questions about his performance away from him if he’s not selected to referee it. With Dublin going for five-in-a-row, it puts huge pressure on him to given that he lives in the capital,” the Rathmore man wrote on PaddyPower.News.

GAA observers in other counties, however, including many sports journalists in the national media, have taken issue with the argument made by Fitzmaurice and O’Mahony, insisting it was unfair on the referee and claiming it was being used as a distraction.

Sunday Independent sports editor, John Greene, described it as a “ridiculous argument” and he said the narrative coming out of Kerry was very disappointing.

Gough, a qualified teacher, now works as a GAA education and development officer in the DCU St Patrick’s campus in Drumcondra.

It has been reported that he will have family members Eugene Gough, Terry Gough, Stephen Gough and Dean Gough as his umpires for the final as well as assistants Conor Lane, Barry Cassidy and Sean Hurson.

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