Tomás Ó Sé would welcome mics on GAA referees

Tomás Ó Sé would welcome mics on GAA referees

Tomás Ó Sé supports the idea of referees being mic-ed up if it encourages them to explain their decisions, writes John Fogarty.

In the 2015 All-Ireland final, David Coldrick wore a recording device for an RTÉ documentary.

The idea was broadly welcomed although the GPA expressed concerns that players were not notified about it.

Former Kerry star Ó Sé says the communication channels between match officials and players has to improve.

"I think if they were hooked up in the big games," he said.

"I have said this for years, referees should walk into dressing rooms beforehand. Every referee is different. Every referee has pet hates.

"They should be saying: ‘Lads, this is what I want, this is what I don’t want. I’ll ref it as fair as I can. I’ll talk to you during the game’.

"I think it has to be more proactive. There’s a camp over there and it’s referees and the GAA and there’s a camp over here and it’s managers and players.

"Even during the summer, the top refs should be travelling 'round the country visiting training and teams. Say, have one referee visit every inter-county team and you can question him.

"I think there needs to be something, there needs to be some more communication."

Ó Sé recalls Jack O’Connor asking a referee to address the Kerry squad during his time in charge.

"I think Jack was very cute. I think he invited one ref to explain something. He did it with a wink, we’ll invite him in and we’ll ask him, and then when he went out, he (Jack) said: ‘Look, we’ll have no problem with that, work away.’

"I think that was a bit of a laugh."

The five-time All-Ireland winner respects leading referees like Coldrick and Maurice Deegan because they inform players why they are making their decisions.

"I don’t mind Deegan from Laois," he said.

"What I think referees have to do is talk to players. That programme that Coldrick was hooked up, it showed that at least Coldrick was explaining, but Coldrick isn’t on his own out there. He has sideline men out there that have to be more proactive.

"Fellas inside on the goalposts have to be more proactive. I think there is too much pressure on one man. Who remembers the linesmen in games? They can see what’s going on off the ball. It’s the ref that will get it (the criticism).

"I think Coldrick is the top ref in the country and I’d leave him at it. When I was playing (Pat) McEnaney was the top ref and you’d accept his decision, and he’d explain it to you.

"Even though you mightn’t agree with you, you’d accept it. There’s too much of the likes of us jumping down their throats. It’s tough. Who’d want to be a ref?

"I guarantee you deep down refs don’t want to be reffing black cards, but they can’t scrap it, which is a problem."

Being a referee is a most unenviable role, Ó Sé maintains.

"I don’t know why people would want to be refs in the first place," he said.

"I think refereeing is a very tough job. I have finished football and I am a school teacher. I hate refereeing schools matches.

"You get abuse from players. You'd love to hit them a clip, like. If they are questioning you, there’s this thing in the GAA that you can give out to a ref, and they are treated disrespectfully and there’s parents on the line and this starts down there and it goes all the way up.

"The referee was attacked coming off the ground in the Gaelic Grounds (Cormac Reilly, 2014 All-Ireland semi-final replay) and there’s been numerous times when the ref has been attacked. They are trying to do their best. They will call things wrong, but it’s a tough job."

Éamonn Fitzmaurice and Jim Gavin have made comments recently cleared aimed at referees but Ó Sé respects their right to protect their players.

"If you have players that you feel are being goaded during games," he said.

"Jesus, you can’t just stand back, you’d have to say something, like.

"If the likes of Lee Keegan is being goaded, or Connolly is being goaded, or whoever it is, Peter Crowley, whoever it is, and if it’s happening in a couple of games and a couple of incidents in a game.

"As a manager who else is going to highlight it? If a player does they’re going to be saying that's not your place to do it. The manager has to highlight."

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