Duffy, National Referees Association (NRA) chairman Mick Curley and the unofficial Gaelic Match Officials Association (GMOA) all reacted negatively to the Clare manager’s criticism of referee Alan Kelly following their defeat to Kilkenny.
While pointing out the match official’s performance didn’t affect the result, Fitzgerald claimed Kelly was another example of a referee who targeted him and his team. Duffy said any possible sanction for Fitzgerald pertaining to his remarks would be a matter for the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC).
“In general terms, managers sometimes make comments in the aftermath of games they mightn’t make 48 hours later. I was at the game and I didn’t think the refereeing had any influence on the outcome. I would be disappointed managers, even when they feel disappointed, would have a go at referees. I’m disappointed with the comments.”
Fitzgerald also claimed referees are afraid to make calls against more established teams like Kilkenny.
“Are the referees afraid to make a mistake when it’s the big teams? Are they afraid they won’t get a bigger match?”
However, Duffy likened Fitzgerald’s claim to one made by a Premier League manager after losing a game.
“That’s something you hear in every sport. I heard the same comments made last week in the Premiership. Losing managers tend to blame referees and I don’t think there is any basis for the point that Davy made.”
NRA chairman Curley dismissed Fitzgerald’s claim that referees have something against the Sixmilebridge man.
“The comments were ridiculous,” he lashed. “No way in the world of God would a referee put himself in the position of targeting a manager.
“The referee doesn’t care who is on the sideline. I don’t know where he’s coming from.”
On the GMAO Twitter page, the referees organisation’s secretary Alan Nash insisted Fitzgerald would be punished for his comments in any other sport. He also wrote the former Waterford boss had no right to approach Kelly at half-time and referred to his criticism of referee Eamon Hasson following Clare’s win over Laois last month.
“Yet again Davy publicly attacks the referee’s integrity. No manager should be allowed to get away with the public attacks Davy has made on match officials this year. Any other code would punish him. No referee is obliged to answer questions, I would also ask in what manner was the referee approached, was Davy calm and mannerly?”
Nash also highlighted Fitzgerald’s second-half sideline altercation with Limerick manager John Allen during their counties’ Division 1B final earlier this month.
“Davy says refs are against him. No ref goes out to get anyone, but maybe Mr Fitzgerald should look at his behaviour on the sideline? I recall a sideline incident in the Limerick v Clare game where managers accidentally clashed on the sideline. Who was that again?”
It’s well known Fitzgerald’s relationship with referees has been strained in recent years. Last season, he was initially slapped with a proposed 12-week ban by the CCCC before the Central Hearings Committee decided it to be four for verbally abusing referee James Owens in a league game against Tipperary.
In the build-up to Waterford’s Munster semi-final against Limerick last June, his then selector Pat Bennett told the Irish Examiner that Fitzgerald and his team were unfairly singled out by referees.