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Trial by tv and social media

paud goal

After involvement in one of the weekend’s more controversial moments Carlow Referee Paud O’Dwyer and his umpires were subjected to vitriol and abuse on various social media outlets in the aftermath of the Limerick and Westmeath qualifier game in Cusack Park.

The decision to award a goal following a rasping 21 yard drive from Limerick midfielder Paul Browne was not questioned to any great degree by the Westmeath players or management at the time but was brought to national attention later that evening on The Sunday Game. The camera angle was not overly conclusive either way in confirming O’Dwyer’s decision to award the goal but neither he nor his umpires seemed in any doubt as to the validity of the crucial score.

One could certainly understand if Westmeath felt aggrieved, having played so well up to this game changing moment but no major issue was made of the call by the Lakesiders. The Sunday Game experts however grasped the nettle and proceeded to inform the watching public of how it was “pretty incredible” that the goal was given and yet more damning; “inexcusable” and that there needed to be “serious question marks asked about the decision”.

Dónal Óg Cusack, the analyst in question, did allude to the fact that the Referee was “looking at it” and the Umpire was “two yards away from it” and indeed he was spot on this dissection of the play. What was not correct in Dónal Óg’s analysis however is that the goal was in fact a legitimate score which has been since been proven by footage obtained from a new camera angle filmed on the other side of the pitch. As we can see from the frozen camera shot O’Dwyer is indeed perfectly placed to look at the ball as it rips past the keeper Shane McGovern and into the bottom right hand corner of the net which must have had a gap somewhere within as the sliotar rolls back onto the field of play.

Now as lovers of GAA, in our eyes the man/woman in the middle rarely make the right call. They make crucial mistakes, they always penalise our Club, they are basically out to get our parish. These are the facts, right ?! Well of course they make mistakes, don’t we all ? Do they set out to do cause untold misery on a Sunday afternoon as they lace up their boots and have the final briefing with their trusty umpires ? Most likely the answer is no. Does it stop anyone having the freedom to criticise these devil-like creatures with their forked whistles ? Certainly not.


In most judicial systems around the world one is assumed innocent until proven guilty. Until all the evidence is gathered and collated. Examined, and cross examined. Every conceivable angle covered. Until then, one’s innocence is held intact. Now whilst allowing for the fact that we are speaking hypothetically here and of course somewhat tongue in cheek, The Sunday Game is our institution of justice, our judge and jury on all matters GAA as the weekend draws its final breath and we face into another drab Monday morning. And so it falls on the panel of experts to perhaps be a little more lenient as they administer  punishment to both player and official alike. These law abiding citizens too must rise the next day and earn a crust. The TV executioners’ words can hang very heavy around the neck in the days that follow.

The nameless, faceless keyboard warriors who bring their own crude version of justice to bear on the social media hubs deserve only scorn. They are not worth the two sentences written here in their ‘honour’. Hide behind your masks trolls, we probably don’t wish to see what lies behind.

O’Dwyer, a Wexford native and where he initially learned his small ball trade, is now a proud Carlow convert and has been steadily rising up the refereeing ladder these past few years. In 2015 he finally broke into the elite level of whistlers and alongside David Hughes, John Hickey and Patrick Murphy represents our County extremely well on the national stage. With this new footage coming to light, let’s hope the Sunday Game’s swords will be used only to grant pardon this weekend and to bear in mind as they return them to their scabbards that their awaiting public hang on their every word……so please leave the hanging out to dry to the trolls.