David Gough must be first choice for Donegal against Armagh

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Former chief referee Pat McEnaney has said the GAA should appoint David Gough to officiate Donegal-Armagh Ulster SFC’s quarter-final on Sunday at Ballybofey.

As Armagh plans to appeal the suspensions of Stefan Campbell, Ciarán Mackin and Aidan Nugent resulting from the melee at the end of the Counties Division 1 match at Letterkenny last month, four-time All-Ireland referee McEnaney believes the main match referee Gough is the right man to take charge of such a loaded fixture.

The Meath Gough man was the referee for the Armagh-Tyrone Division 1, Round 2 game in February when he sent off five players when the sides became embroiled in a late-game row and their five suspensions a match have been confirmed.

“I’d be surprised if it’s not Gough for this (Donegal-Armagh) game,” said McEnaney, who was chairman of referee development from 2012-15. would send Gough back on the road for that. When you think about it, there have been some big giveaways and that’s sending alarm bells ringing in the cross-county squads.

“Two boys growl and grab hands and go to the ground, next man is the problem, third man. If he is seen entering, then everyone else feels compelled to do so. People expect fireworks between Donegal and Armagh, but you know those things, it gets said and nothing happens. I believe that they will both want to be disciplined on this occasion because whoever is not will not win.

Earlier this week, RTÉ football pundit Kevin McStay mentioned that Armagh was upset that other such flashpoints weren’t punished like those at Letterkenny and the Athletic Grounds.

Monaghan man McEnaney does not detect bias against Northern teams in such circumstances. “Not from what I saw. These teams have to raise their hands and ask like (Mario) Balotelli ‘why always me?’ You have to look at your own house before you start talking about others and some counties just haven’t gotten their house in order yet.

“I always tell the players ‘take it away from the referee. If you control your own destiny, you won’t let another man decide whether you stay on the pitch or not. In general, McEnaney was impressed with the performance of the referees in big games in the Allianz leagues and thinks that bodes well for the championship to come.

“The refereeing was quite good and handled reasonably well. I watched all the finals, some good games, and when the players acted they were punished. However, it would have been disappointing from a refereeing perspective if Rian O’Neill gets off (a one-game ban).

“The championship is obviously different from the league, but people have to be more disciplined. In the modern possession game, you can’t go down to 14 men. Even taking a black card is a turning point. There is a great emphasis on discipline among the inter-county teams and where there is none they are not doing their job.

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