Don't put coronavirus duties on referees, says John Sexton

Munster GAA referees committee secretary John Sexton says match officials should not have to take on any Covid-19 related responsibilities when GAA action returns late next month.
Don't put coronavirus duties on referees, says John Sexton
John Sexton accepts the number of available referees will be a concern for some counties as they condense their competitions into a shorter timeframe.

Munster GAA referees committee secretary John Sexton says match officials should not have to take on any Covid-19 related responsibilities when GAA action returns late next month.

In conjunction with their organising competition committee, referees have the power to decide whether games go ahead based on the suitability of the grounds or the pitch and can terminate a game for a limited number of reasons.

However, Sexton argues that their duties shouldn’t be compounded by the safety measures required to return to play. “I can’t see that happening because they have enough to be doing, the same as the player. In fairness to the GAA, I think they have handled this well and been responsible by insisting there be people responsible for compliance in clubs. They’ll be like match monitors.

Referees have enough to be concentrating to then put extra responsibilities on them. At the same time, they’ll be conscious of what’s going on around them and they’re all going to play their part.

“Croke Park at the moment are putting together procedures, which will filter through the Munster Council to the county boards. From an officiating point of view, everyone is going to follow them to the letter of the law.”

Sexton accepts the number of available referees will be a concern for some counties as they condense their competitions into a shorter timeframe.

A shortage in match officials has been reported in all six Munster counties in recent times and extra matches on top of referees’ concerns about making themselves available for games while coronavirus remains a threat are causes for concern.

The Ballyhea clubman can see more club referees being asked to do two championship games over the course of the same weekend.

“It is doable. These guys are fit and they have been doing it anyway with the decline in the number of referees.

“A guy might be out on Friday night and out again on Sunday morning so there’s a chance for some rest. They’re mad to get back into it as well as the players.

At inter-county, I don’t see that happening. The bigger picture is that everyone is safe at the same time we get back to some sort of normality with the return of the games. Everyone will be trying to play their part.

“Once we know when the games are we can plan. The referees in Munster have been keeping fit. Every county will be practical about it and we’ll just have to do what we have to do. There will be a bit of a push to get games played at all levels and it’s uncharted waters.

“As for burnout, the same number of referees are there but there could be more knock-out games so that might help. We have only been talking over the phone and haven’t met up yet so we don’t have a clear picture but obviously referees have been maintaining their preparations with a mind to getting back.”

Meanwhile, Cavan and Meath have become the first counties to organise their senior club championship finals for October.

Cavan are using the full extent of the club window to stage their football decider on October 11, a week before Meath stage their football and hurling finals.

Wexford have confirmed their format will be four groups of three teams in both codes with the hurling commencing on July 31 and the winners of each group progressing to semi-finals.

The hurling decider could be as early as August 23 with the first round of football championship commencing the weekend of the hurling semi-finals.

Clare have signalled their intent to stage their county finals in September.

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