GAA members who abuse officials could be sent on referees courses

The GAA’s communications manager Cian Murphy has suggested those members who abuse match officials be instructed to complete referees courses as part of their punishment
GAA members who abuse officials could be sent on referees courses

PUNISHMENT: The GAA’s communications manager Cian Murphy has suggested those members who abuse match officials be instructed to complete referees courses as part of their punishment. File pic: INPHO/James Crombie

The GAA’s communications manager Cian Murphy has suggested those members who abuse match officials be instructed to complete referees courses as part of their punishment.

Writing in his capacity as a Templeogue-Synge Street club member in the monthly GAA club newsletter which he edits, Murphy makes the proposal in a hard-hitting piece in the wake of a spat of alleged attacks on referees at club games in recent weeks.

"We can insist that people reported for verbal abuse of match officials are made complete referee courses as part of their rehabilitation. There is a rule in place for a referee to move a ball forward in response to back chat from a player. But perhaps we should set the tone at underage level and respond to back chat to a referee by awarding a 20 metre free against the offending team instead.

“And when we find ourselves facing accusations of poor discipline we need more people to have the courage to take the John Mullane line that ‘if you do the crime, you do the time.’ 

“New rules can be made, existing rules can be tightened but the business world will tell you that culture eats strategy for breakfast. Society is angrier now and social media can be a place where anger is easily stoked and rarely moderated. But there is still a choice. What sort of GAA culture do we want to exist? It starts with individuals. It starts with us as GAA members. If not us, who? If not now, when?” 

Murphy notes that the club calendar is being “overshadowed by the reputational damage caused by a mindless minority engaged in behaviour that tarnishes the Association.

“In the past it has been acts of on field indiscipline amongst players that has dragged us through the mud. But 2022 has taken a turn for the worse with this behaviour extending to allegations of attacks on match officials.” 

He also touches on the inability of some units to accept responsibility when their players are proposed suspensions. 

“For too long we have tolerated an approach to discipline in the GAA to look for the grey area interpretation of rules and suspensions to see if they can be got around.

“We erode and undermine our values every time we go into a committee room and look to pull a stroke to get a player off or a suspension reduced, or a charge challenged.

“And even if these successful appeals are a ‘legitimate’ use of the system and sometimes succeed having highlighted procedural or technical errors – is there not a moral authority and obligation to do what is right, to hold your hands up when you are in the wrong and accept your punishment?”

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