Situation at 'crisis point' as GAA referees dwindle amid incidents in four different counties 2 months ago

Situation at 'crisis point' as GAA referees dwindle amid incidents in four different counties

Who would be a referee?

On the thankless job scale, there's no doubt about it, that of whistle-blower is right at the very top.

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In rugby, for the most part, officials are treated with due respect but unfortunately, as a number of incidents over the last few weeks have highlighted, it's an absolute free-for-all in the GAA.

In September alone, there have been incidences of disrespect and violence towards referees in four different games, in four different counties. First of all, an individual was handed a 96 week ban for his conduct at a Roscommon underage match while, in the last week, there have been further controversies in Kerry, Mayo and in Wexford.

It's no wonder that, all around the country, there is a real shortage of them.

The Wexford issue concerned a football game between St Joseph's and Our Lady's Island and, in its aftermath, the St Joseph's club issued a statement on the matter.

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"Following a meeting of the executive committee of St. Joseph’s GAA club , a decision has been taken to suspend indefinitely with immediate effect the club member at the centre of the alleged incident at our junior football game on Sunday morning

"A full investigation is now underway by our club disciplinary committee along with Wexford GAA Co Board and the CCC."

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Wexford GAA meanwhile, confirmed that the Gardaí are involved in dealing with the 'alleged incident.'

"Wexford GAA is aware of an incident involving match officials during a junior football match today, Sunday," read a statement from the county board.

"Wexford GAA are disappointed that such an incident arose and strongly condemns any threatening or abusive behaviour towards our match officials of any kind.

"We would like to wish the officials involved in this incident a speedy recovery.

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"The CCC will commence a full investigation into the incident and Wexford GAA will support An Garda Síochána in their inquires also.

"We will not be making any further comment at this time."

Micheál Martin is the Wexford GAA Chairman and he spoke on the RTE news recently about the dearth of referees in the county, which has led to some games being cancelled.

"I think we have reached crisis point," he said.

"In Wexford, we have dropped from upwards of 70 referees a number of years ago to down to just over 50.

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"That has implications in being able to run a games programme. A small number of games haven’t been able to go ahead… because of the lack of referees.

"From talking to other county chairmen, that is an issue across a number of counties, and across other codes as well."