Sunday's Allianz Football League final was a typical day in the life of a GAA referee. 

The referee Anthony Nolan was variously accused of giving everything to Dublin and being practically a 16th man for Galway.

Others chimed that the referee had been 'bad for both teams', which is about as close to perfection as a refereeing performance can get these days. 

If Twitter condemnation grows any more severe, then there won't be any referees left in Gaelic football as no one will for volunteer for the job. Even at this point, it's amazing to me that there are still people agreeing to do it.

Entertainers often sigh that you can't please all the people all of the time.

Gaelic football refs must laugh ruefully at the optimistic naivety of that statement. A referee, if he is to retain sanity, must resign himself to pleasing none of the people none of the time. 

Dublin could have incurred a couple of black cards, the sending off was on the harsh side, and then Galway couldn't buy a free after Scully was ordered off. But there'll always be quibbles and other factors surely affected the result. 

When critics strain to sound reasonable - as opposed to just sore that their team didn't get enough frees - they insist that all they ask for is 'consistency'. 

That doesn't sound like too much to ask for, does it? Give us consistency and the barracking can cease.

"Turnovers in football are rarely achieved without being accompanied by the sort of manhandling that a referee could legitimately penalise"

The first thing to remember here is that not every perceived inconsistency arises from a wilful misapplication of the rules or a ref who bottles big calls (although admittedly that can occur too).

Sometimes, referees don't see similar incidents in a similar light. This can happen, of course, what with them not being supercomputers. 

Their view of an incident might be obscured by players crowding around the ball. They might, and often do, miss a tug of a jersey here or a sneaky dig there and these go unpunished whereas other similar offences are spotted and penalised. 

'Inconsistent' isn't really the appropriate word to describe these inevitable failings but it's become such a buzzword now that folk trot it out endlessly.

However, the other major obstacle to consistency in refereeing is the rulebook itself. 

Every now and again, an inter-county manager will emerge and bemoan the failure to define the tackle. Niall Carew spent his three years as Sligo manager complaining about the failure to define the tackle. In 2011, then Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney said that proper interpretation of the tackle rule was "beyond me now."   

When, dammit, will we get around to defining that tackle, people ask. 

If, after 134 years of trying, the GAA have failed as of yet to adequately define the tackle in Gaelic football, we might fairly assume that it is close to impossible to do so without altering the character of the game beyond all recognition, ie. by turning it into Australian Rules or into some other such game. 

(One presumes that when Michael Cusack and the lads met in Hayes Hotel in November 1884, they didn't seek to grapple with the issue of the tackle straight away and instead postponed it for another night. Well over a hundred years later, as it turned out.)

Aussie Rules has a clearly defined tackle - which looks to the layman very close to a traditional rugby tackle. It has occasionally been mooted that we bite the bullet and adopt this in Gaelic football though it's worth noting that in that case the game will quickly cease to become Gaelic football as we have known it and (usually) loved it.

Perhaps that is too alarmist. Not long after Sean Cavanagh's infamous tackle on Conor McManus, former Munster Council Chairman Sean Walsh, a perennial candidate for the GAA Presidency, said that the simplest thing for Gaelic football to do is to introduce the Aussie Rules tackle wholesale, a suggestion supported by Carew, McGeeney and many others. 

The Australians celebrate a tackle in last year's International Rules series game in Perth

There is arguably a far greater degree of looseness and anarchy to the way hurling is officiated, encouraged by the seemingly universal popularity of laissez faire refereeing among hurling folk. ('Is it a game of frees or a game of hurling, ye want?' asked an exasperated Galway club ref once).

But the game doesn't seem to suffer as much as it has a more coherent and achievable method of dispossession than Gaelic football. Hooking and blocking are more routine events than the clean swiping of a size 5 which is gripped to an opponent's chest.   

Turnovers in football are rarely achieved without being accompanied by the sort of manhandling that a referee could legitimately penalise, if he were so minded. 

The Football Review Committee in 2013 were the latest body to attempt to nail the jelly to the wall and define the tackle in Gaelic football. 

They gave it their best shot and their wording was accepted at Congress that year but, in so far as defining the tackle once and for all goes, they can't claim to helped the poor refs too much.

The rule contains such hedged phrases as 'the tackle is aimed at the ball, not the player' and stressed that 'deliberate bodily contact is forbidden', therefore lumping on referees the arduous task of divining the intentions of defending players. 

And so, as of 2018, Gaelic football refs are still being handed a vague tackle rule with grey areas larger than the moon. 

In that context, demanding 'consistency' from referees is laughable. 

The rule, as it exists, states that "the tackler may use his body to confront the opponent but deliberate bodily contact is forbidden (such as punching, slapping, arm holding, pushing, tripping, jersey pulling or a full-frontal charge)." 

I am not a statistician sitting in the Cusack Stand furiously jotting down notes, but according to my rough estimates, that rule is traversed approximately 7,456 times in your average Gaelic football match. 

Very often, when referees do apply the rulebook coldly and rigorously - the only guarantee of consistency in the long run - they are pilloried for crimes against 'common sense'. 

David Coldrick was criticised for, among other things, black carding Robbie Kiely 'too early' in the 2016 All-Ireland semi-final

And cursed to damnation is the ref who defies the great God of common sense. 

It's hard to find a supporter with a bad word to say about common sense.

For some folk, there is no problem in life so thorny and complex and fundamental that it couldn't benefit from the application of a bit more common sense. 

Common sense refereeing, in GAA terms, is defined as the use of discretion when the rulebook is being a pain in the backside. 

And yet, one could argue there's nothing more undermining of 'consistency' than the demands of 'common sense'. 

A referee adjudicating on incidents based off his own lights without reference to a guidebook is a recipe for arbitrary decision-making. And, yes, wholesale inconsistency down the line.  

Common sense is the weed choking out the pure flowerbed of consistency. 

Off the top of one's head, there were the complaints about Tipperary's Robbie Kiely being black carded 'so early in the game' against Mayo in the 2016 All-Ireland semi-final (Tom Carr may have been a guilty man here). Black carding someone so early in the game would ruin it as a spectacle. 

Referees are forever charged with ruining games as spectacles. According to Twitter, some of them seem to have made it their mission in life to go around ruining games as spectacles. 

Here, we might counter that if the application of the rules ruins the game as a spectacle, we could instead look at those rules, or else conclude it wasn't much of a game to begin with. 

David Gough shows a card to Galway's Declan Kyne 

David Gough was sharply criticised after last year's Connacht final for observing the rulebook and routinely penalising players for off the ball holding. Galway, whose defence wasn't the stubborn, finely tuned arrangement of spring 2018, gave away four frees straight in front of the goal - certain points - while Roscommon players had been harmlessly loitering with ball in midfield.

Other sports like golf rigidly adhere to their byzantine rules in a manner that a Gaelic Games official would probably find borderline inhumane, not to mention an affront to common sense.  

There have been several maddeningly cruel incidents, like when Ian Woosnam was penalised two strokes in the final round of the British Open because his caddie accidentally placed an extra club in his bag (and if you think Woosnam was in hard luck, just read up on what happened to Roberto Di Vincenzo at the Masters). 

But the big positive of this aspergers level faithfulness to the rulebook is that the issue of inconsistency rarely, if ever, arises.   

In the meantime, we might consider acknowledging the treacherous difficulties faced by Gaelic football referees and tone down the attacks, lest no one ever sign up for the role again.  

If a supercomputer were designed to oversee Gaelic football matches - and it would be a tall order for the computer scientists to build one that wouldn't explode from all the competing and contradictory demands placed upon it - then it would quickly be indicted for intolerable crimes against 'common sense' and people would be asking for the human referees back.

Given the extent of fouling in Gaelic football, and the word 'endemic' isn't even sufficient to convey its prevalence, the computer would soon be calling fouls all over the shop, possibly several at a time.

It would, no doubt, 'ruin the game as a spectacle'. At least the humans weren't blowing for everything.