Nash opposed to introducing semi-pro refs

Creating an elite semi-professional refereeing core would ignore the bigger problems facing officiating in the GAA, according to Alan Nash, secretary of the Gaelic Match Officials Association (GMOA).

Mayo manager James Horan yesterday called on the GAA to make referees semi-professional so they could spend more time training to deal with the increasing demands of the black card. It follows similar calls made by Kildare’s Dermot Earley and Kerry’s Paul Galvin in 2010.

However Nash believes an independent refereeing body would prove far more beneficial to the association in the long-term.

“At the moment the referee has to please the assessor, manager, Pat McEnaney (Chairman of National Referee Committee) and provincial council. That’s four masters and if you upset anyone of those four you won’t get the next game,” he said.

“When something goes wrong you’re serving four masters and the rulebook is open to interpretation. I don’t know any other sport where a provincial council or a Croke Park dictate how to play game. There has to be an independent body. They have to be impartial.

“When a new president comes in you could have a new referees coordinator. Every three years it all changes. It’s a rat race for the referees. You’re trying to please Croke Park to get on to the panel but you’re not going out thinking ‘what’s the best for hurling or football?’. You’re ticking boxes.

“Making a few referees semi-professional takes the problem further away from grassroots. If we have a semi-pro body, you’ve got elite referees getting the big games. Come November for the Ulster club junior championship you’ve got an amateur doing it and he is getting compared to the semi-pro. If a guy is getting paid the others are not going to be as good. If the ref go semi-pro the players will want it next.

“They need a separate referees body to run referees. I know they’ll say there is one there at the moment but it’s political appointments answerable to the to president and the provincial councils. They’ll say who’s going to fund it? They get government funding for Croke Park each year, take that and hand a small part of it over. Then the referees are responsible for themselves and financially independent. It’d be better than going semi-pro.”

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