Ciaran Whelan challenges referees to "protect our really good players"
"We have a duty to protect our really good players."
Both Shane McGuigan and David Clifford took a lot of hits in Kerry's victory over Derry in the All-Ireland semi-final, and Ciaran Whelan thinks that referees need to do more to "protect our really good players."
The former Dublin ace highlighted several moments from the game on The Sunday Game highlights programme, with the majority of them involving both team's star forwards.
One incident in particular stands out, as Shane Ryan came flying out of his goal to win a high ball, but turns in mid-air with both feet off the ground and clashes into McGuigan.
Ryan went on to score a point while the Derry forward lay on the ground to deal with the aftermath of the blow. Whether or not this should have been awarded as a free, caused much debate, but there's no doubt that the Slaughtneil man was being targeted as a'danger man'.
Just as Chrissy McKaiuge followed every one of Clifford's slightest movements, the Oakleaf county made sure to put extra pressure and focus on the Fossa man.
More often than not they were winning their own frees after being on the end of a big challenge, which has prompted Whelan to call for more protection for these players.
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) July 16, 2023
"We have a duty to protect our really good players," said Whelan. "Shane McGuigan and David Clifford are two top players at the moment and they took a lot of stick off the ball. They were targeted.
"That’s the nature of this game, it’s been going on for years, but there’s linesmen and umpires there. Just give them a little bit of extra protection because they do deserve it. they’re top-class players for a reason. They’re going to draw attention."
Tomás Ó Sé was also on The Sunday Game panel, and echoed his colleague's concerns.
"There were desperate battles going on. There was an awful lot of off-the-ball stuff on both sides from an early stage.
"It's very difficult, you always look at umpires in that situation. Clifford and McGuigan are class, they wouldn’t complain."
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