Aidan O’Mahony has added his voice to calls in Kerry for the GAA not to appoint David Gough as referee for the All-Ireland final.
Gough, who has yet to get the nod for the senior decider, is considered a favourite to be given the honour for the Dublin-Kerry final.
However, O’Mahony and his former Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice are among those to object to the Meathman’s potential appointment due to him living and working in Dublin.
David Coldrick is considered the other frontrunner for the final. Another Meathman, Coldrick also lives and works in Dublin and took charge of the last Dublin-Kerry final in 2015.
Gough, however, isn’t fondly remembered by Kerry supporters following an incident late in Dublin and Kerry’s 2016 semi-final, where he missed a bad tackle on Peter Crowley which resulted in a crucial Dublin point.
Gough, who has since refereed high-profile Kerry games, later apologised for missing the foul, saying: “I know I got it wrong. I didn’t get it wrong on purpose. I just didn’t see it.”
O’Mahony, who played in that 2016 semi-final, says Gough wouldn’t be a neutral choice due to the pressure surrounding him in Dublin.
“David Gough shouldn’t be allowed to ref the All-Ireland final, he lives in Dublin and you need a neutral referee, that’s how I feel,” said O’Mahony in his Paddy Power News column.
“It would take questions about his performance away from him if he’s not selected to referee it. With Dublin going for five-in-a-row, it puts huge pressure on him to given that he lives in the capital.
Gough is undoubtedly in the top three or four referees in the country, but Croke Park must pick a neutral for the final.
“For someone based in Dublin, I really don’t believe the GAA should put that kind of pressure on Gough by picking him to be in charge.”
The debate was kickstarted on Monday when Fitzmaurice said on the Irish Examiner GAA podcast, “I think it’s an injustice if he does get the game.
“I am not going to be dictating here who I feel should get the game, but a final referee has to be a neutral referee.
“Living and working in Dublin, you are not neutral. If you are living there, you are meeting people in the shop, at work, down the street.
“Of course when David Gough goes out to referee a match he is trying to be neutral and impartial, I am not questioning that, but it can’t be fair that if you are living and working in a place, that you get to referee an All-Ireland final involving that county.
“It’s tough on him, he is a very good referee, and Dublin are there every year. (But) I do genuinely think from his own perspective, there’s huge pressure on him. I wouldn’t look on it as punishing him. If you live and work in a place it rules you out. It’s very hard in that instance.
“If Kerry get a couple of calls (in the final), he is going to have a miserable winter listening to Dubs telling him he denied them the five in a row.”
Gough refereed Cork’s Super 8 game against Dublin and Rebels manager Ronan McCarthy, also on the Examiner GAA podcast, insisted Gough is an “outstanding referee” who should be considered for the final.
“I think he is an outstanding referee, I really do. He did our game against Dublin and you can always have a whinge. Dublin got a goal, it was 30 seconds over the allotted first-half injury time, but we didn’t defend it properly and we should have seen it out to half time.
“He’s a top referee, you pick your top refs for a game of this stature and I feel should be in the mix for it.”
While Fitzmaurice said it would be an injustice for Gough to be chosen, former inter-county hurling Brian Gavin, in his Irish Examiner column, said it would be an injustice for Gough to be overlooked.
“[Kerry] might believe they have had been unlucky with David Gough in the past but it would be an injustice if he doesn’t get the appointment,” said Gavin.
“Gough has been extremely patient and if he doesn’t get the big one here I would wonder if he will continue refereeing at inter-county level. James McGrath felt he was snubbed last year [for the hurling final] and Gough has been excellent this season and really should have been a senior final referee by this stage.
“Whatever Kerry people’s hang-ups with him are, I don’t think they should fear him being given the role in the game against Dublin.
“He might work in Dublin but so does David Coldrick and that didn’t have any impact on him.
“David [Gough] has worked his socks off to get to this stage and he is due it.
“He will be going out to do his best for himself, his family and his club as well as Kerry and Dublin. Kerry shouldn’t be worrying about him.”
On the theme of injustices, O’Mahony added that Stephen O’Brien missing the All-Ireland final over his suspension for an accumulation of black card offences wouldn’t be right.
O’Brien is appealing the ban with a focus on the black card he received against Meath earlier this month.
“That wasn’t a black card,” said O’Mahony. “It will be a massive injustice if he doesn’t get to play in it. He has to get off that ban.
“Are you really going to deny him an All-Ireland final appearance? You can’t take the biggest day of his life away from him because of silly black cards.
“It would be a calamity for Kerry if he was banned, but I can’t see it happening.”