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30th Jul 2023

Tomás Ó Sé agrees with David Gough changing mind on “crucial” free awarded to David Clifford

Patrick McCarry

“To admit it, both of them were at it.”

55 minutes into a taut, back-and-forth final between Kerry and Dublin, the reigning champs were leading by a point. Play had just broken into the Dublin half when David Clifford hit the deck.

Referee David Gough blew for a free in to The Kingdom and Sean Ó Sé would have been faced with a close-range effort to put his side two clear. As Gough jogged closer to the scene of the crime, Mick Fitzsimons was irate, and was insisting it was he that was fouled.

As Fitzsimons and Clifford gesticulated at each other, Gough was summoned over by an umpire behind the Dublin goal. He returned to both players and flashed yellow cards at both before awarding a hop ball. Up in the commentary gantry, former Kerry player and manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice commented:

“He’s doing a hop ball and booking them both… Jesus!”

Over on the BBC, meanwhile, Gough’s decision to split the difference and reverse the free awarded to Clifford got the approval of their commentary team. To make matters worse for Kerry, Dublin won that hop ball and broke up the field. Within a matter of 30 seconds from Gough throwing the ball in, Paul Mannion was arrowing a point over the bar and the scores were level. It was also the last time in the match that Kerry would have the lead.

Following the game, the RTÉ panel discussed the moment and Joanne Cantwell revealed that the broadcaster had access to Gough’s ref mic, which captured why that Kerry free was scrubbed.

David CliffordDavid Clifford (left) and referee David Gough (Credit: Sportsfile)

Umpire comments to David Gough on ref mic

Following the game, which resulted in Dublin winning their 31st All-Ireland title, Kerry boss Jack O’Connor said he felt the victor’s experience got them over the line in tough conditions.

“David Gough was reffing it on the margins,” O’Connor said. “He was allowing a lot of contact, which made for a great game and an exciting game but I couldn’t fault anybody. We really, really emptied the tank there.”

On RTE, former Dublin footballer Ciarán Whelan noted that “crucial score” from Paul Mannion, after the David Gough decision to cancel his awarding of a Kerry free and, instead, book both Mick Fitzsimons and David Clifford. Joanne Cantwell cut in:

“What happened there – because some of us had access to the ref’s mic – is that David Gough had called a free to Kerry and then his umpire said, no, there was two of them at it. That’s why he gave the throw in.”

“We saw it from the back,” added former Kerry defender Tomás Ó Sé, “and I looked at it. Both of them were off it. To admit it, both of them were at it… you often wish umpires would make contributions like that. They often don’t but they did today and, I think, the right decision was made as it could have been given either way.”

Peter Canavan stated that many fans would love to hear the referee microphone comments that The Sunday Game panel had access to. The Tyrone legend backed up Cantwell when he informed viewers that Gough had been told by his umpire that ‘the two of them are at it’.

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