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Former referee Pat McEnaney predicts VAR in GAA within the next five years

Former GAA referee Pat McEnaney. Photo: Sportsfile

Former GAA referee Pat McEnaney. Photo: Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Frank RocheIndependent.ie

Croke Park could be just five years away from introducing a video assistant referee, or VAR, to help in adjudicating contentious calls.

Former All-Ireland referee Pat McEnaney made this bold prediction while launching an impassioned defence of Hawk-Eye – the GAA’s score-detection technology that came under fire after calling a valid Galway point wide during their recent SFC semi-final against Derry.

“We can’t afford another mistake this year,” McEnaney told the Irish Independent. “People have lost a little bit of confidence, they’re questioning it naturally enough, so you can’t have another error.

“But Hawk-Eye has been very good to our game. I mean, I believe in the next four-five years, we will have VAR.

“If you take the last 20 years, if you look at all the changes like yellow cards, red cards, line balls from the hands, people don’t realise the number of rule changes that has happened, and how the game has moved on.

“Well, the very same thing is going to happen in the next 20 years . . . that’s why the inevitable thing about VAR will happen in the game.”

McEnaney believes it would ease the pressure on referees when it comes to major decisions revolving around goals, penalties and potential red cards. He even alluded to his own role in awarding Benny Coulter’s goal for Down against Kildare in the 2010 All-Ireland semi-final where replays quickly revealed a square ball offence.

“There have been teething problems but overall VAR has been very successful in the Premier League. It takes the major controversy away from the referee,” the Monaghan man outlined.

“You know, if I had VAR in the Kildare/Down game, they wouldn’t be talking about Pat McEnaney missing a square ball. It’d be dealt with.

“So VAR has been very good . . . it’s got a lot more right than it’s got wrong. Yes, there’s teething problems – and the very same thing will happen within the GAA, no question.”

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