New referees’ body fails to register with ‘official’ top brass

The GAA’s official refereeing authorities are indifferent to news that an unofficial match officials body is being established.

Clonmel man Alan Nash is formulating the constitution of the Gaelic Match Officials Association (GMOA) in response to a number of outstanding issues raised by whistleblowers at club level. Nash tweeted last week that the organisation is “going from strength to strength as more and more referees and umpires are getting in touch”.

However, national match officials’ manager Pat Doherty is unmoved by the establishment of the body.

“I wouldn’t have too much reaction to it. Whatever the chap has done he’s done. Has it caused me any angst? No. Am I jumping for joy about it? No. None of the referees have spoken to me about it. To be fair about it, I’m dealing with the national panel of referees and there has been no communication to me about it, good, bad or indifferent. I don’t know if any of them have seen the questionnaire.

“We’ve a national referees’ seminar at the weekend [in Croke Park] and ahead of it I’ve sent an email to the referees asking them if they wanted anything raised. But nobody sent anything back in relation to it.”

Doherty isn’t in denial that some referees have been left disenchanted with how assaults on them have been handled by the GAA authorities.

“Am I aware that referees are disappointed? Yes I am. I will say all the time to the referees ‘you report what has happened and let other people look after it following that’. I believe that’s the attitude referees should take. Referees can’t see themselves as judges and juries. The referee makes the decision and somebody else is judge and jury.

“You do your job, you referee the game and you make your report.”

Leinster referees’ committee chairman Aidan Shiels received the questionnaire but did not respond to it. In his view, the current system available to referees is sufficient and does not feel there is the need for the establishment of the new organisation in light of assaults on referees.

Shiels said: “I certainly haven’t experienced any dissatisfaction among referees in that area either in Leinster or Dublin. Fortunately enough, such incidents are rare. They are undesirable when they happen but going on past experiences there would be very few of them.”

Antrim was a flash-point last October when referee Ray Matthews quit following the Ulster Council’s decision to reduce bans handed down by the county board to the St Mary’s Rasharkin club. The county’s outgoing referees chairman Gerry McClory believes the GAA is more than capable of ensuring match officials’ concerns are addressed.

“Our association is strong enough and big enough to deal with the culprits. How are they [the GMOA] going to get affiliated? I’d be sceptical about it [the GMOA]. I wouldn’t be in favour of it.”

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