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INTERVIEW: Pat McEnaney Disputes That Philly McMahon Head-Butted Aidan O'Shea

INTERVIEW: Pat McEnaney Disputes That Philly McMahon Head-Butted Aidan O'Shea
By Conor Neville
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Former referee's chief Pat McEnaney disputes that Philly McMahon was clearly guilty of striking with his head and says yesterday's game was impossible to referee, as there were around 'seven or eight players who weren't interested in playing football'.

Speaking to Balls.ie, he defended Joe McQuillan's display, saying that if one examined all the decisions individually, one might only change one or two. And he says it is the players who have have got to take responsibility for the narky and generally bad-tempered nature of yesterday's game.

You've got to take yesterday's game on it's own. You had around seven or eight players who weren't interested in playing football. It's impossible to referee a match if people aren't interested in playing football. Players have got to hold their hand up and accept some responsibility here. When you analyse all of Joe McQuillan's decision, was there many you'd change. You might change one or two. You might change a yellow card to a black card.

Aidan O'Shea emerged after the game into the phalanx of dictaphones and said he was head-butted. However, McEnaney's assessment of the situation differs greatly and should encourage Philly McMahon and members of the Dublin back-room team, pensive about the prospect of a coming ban.

Philly McMahon, did it clearly show that he struck with his head? I would say there is no clear striking of the head. Yes, he put his head forward. Yes, the other boy put his head slightly forward. But as someone would say, that's how they walk in Ballymun anyway!

And he blasted pundits (specifically yesterday's co-commentator) for their ignorance of the black card rule.


The black card can only be shown when a player drags a player to the ground, not for a mere jersey tug, the offence for which Cian O'Sullivan was penalised yesterday. Incidentally, this loophole (if one could term it that) was first exploited by Andy Moran in last year's League.


The black card that Cian O'Sullivan didn't get - the one where he was pulling his (Diarmuid O'Connor's) jersey - Joe McQuillan was 100% right. He could only note him. He didn't pull him to the ground. And then you have co-commentators like Dessie (Dolan) who doesn't know the rules of the game. And he claims it's very confusing for supporters when they see Marc O'Se getting sent off last week and Cian O'Sullivan not getting sent off this week. Marc O'Se pulled him down. Cian O'Sullivan did not pull anyone down. When you pull a player's jersey a noting offence, it's not a yellow card offence, it's not a red card offence, it's a noting offence. The problem is, it's people like Dessie who are getting people confused.

McEnaney admits that jersey-tugging does constitute cynical play, but says there is no way a law would get through Congress stipulating that a player who was guilty of jersey pulling should be automatically ordered off the pitch.

Having reviewed the incident, he's satisfied that he would have handed out a yellow card to Jonny Cooper after he raked his studs down Diarmuid O'Connor's leg, though he admits it is a borderline call.


Yes, it was borderline. It was a bit rash. Knowing Jonny Cooper, he's not that type of player. I'd say if I was refereeing the game myself, it would be still be just yellow.

Following the messy and sometimes anarchic scenes yesterday, there were renewed calls for the GAA to introduce a second referee for such games.

McEnaney was a referee the last time the idea was trialled, in the League almost a decade ago, and found it an unsatisfying arrangement. Interestingly, he suggested that such a reform would induce boredom among referees.


Two referees in Gaelic football? I think 'No' is the answer to that.

There's some much hand-passing going on in the game, it's not a question of not being able to stay with the game. That's not the issue. If you look at all the camera footage of where all the decisions are made, the referee is never too far away. Never too far away in football. Hurling, I've a different opinion, but football, no.

It was trialled about ten years ago. I was involved in it. From a refereeing perspective, (I found it) not good because you get bored. You wouldn't be active enough in the game.

Read more: Why Dublin Might Be Worried About The Referee Appointed For Saturday's Replay

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