The GAA’s new referees development chairman Willie Barrett believes the number of team officials on sidelines can be reduced after a spate of suspensions for managers and selectors.
Including water/hurley carriers (two), current inter-county match regulations allow a maximum of five in the pitch enclosure following the coin toss — manager, maor foirne, and medical person.
The maximum had previously been eight. During his time as president, Liam O’Neill said the number could be cut to one.
Barrett agrees that the sidelines have to be “tidied up” and would welcome a match regulation to that effect but insisted match officials will be keeping a close eye on county teams so as to ensure they don’t contravene the regulation.
Recently, there have been eight-week bans in football for managers Tom McGlinchey (Waterford) and Éamon Burns (Down) and a four-week suspension for Clare’s Colm Collins. Mayo maor foirne Tony McEntee picked up an eight-week penalty and there are reports Dublin’s maor foirne Jason Sherlock has been recommended the same for an incident against Galway in Salthill last Sunday.
Barrett would hope to see sidelines less populated in future.
“It’s something we would be encouraging, to have the sideline tidied, particularly as we’re only a matter of weeks now before the Championship is upon us,” said Barrett.
“What we’ve asked up to now is that referees would report serious incidents and they have been doing that. We are where we are for this year but we will endeavour to control things as best we can between the referees and the linesmen and the sideline officials.
“Obviously, with some recent cases, people haven’t realised that this is the way things are going to be and it is the way it’s going to be going forward.”
Clare manager Collins was handed a four-week suspension for verbally abusing a match official in last month’s Division 2 defeat to Tipperary, while Waterford boss McGlinchey’s punishment for a more serious case of the same offence has seen him banned for eight weeks arising from February’s Division 4 loss to Carlow.
Down’s Burns was sent to the stands by referee Pádraig O’Sullivan after he pushed Cavan player Oisín Kiernan last Saturday week and he is also believed to have incurred an eight-week suspension.
McEntee had been expected to contest his eight-week ban for his involvement in a fracas between Galway and Mayo players in their Division 1 game in Pearse Stadium last month. Sherlock is understood to have been proposed the same ban for an altercation with Barry McHugh at the same venue five days ago.
Meanwhile, Barrett said Na Piarsaigh manager Shane O’Neill’s comments about referee Colm Lyons’ performance in the drawn All-Ireland Club SHC final last weekend won’t influence anybody. O’Neill remarked: “I would say he would be extremely disappointed with his own performance.”
Former inter-county referee Barrett is realistic enough to know managers will continue to make such remarks although he intimated those who make derogatory remarks about match officials can lose sideline privileges.
“I don’t think it is something that will go away. I think it’s something that referees have to ensure to get as much right as possible on the day. You will always have somebody giving out about something at some stage but it’s the nature of how they comment really, which is a matter for the Central Competitions Control Committee.
“As far as we are concerned, we will continue to analyse performance, study clips of incidents and decisions, and have meetings on a three-week basis throughout the league and the Championship. We will be influenced by what the referee does, not by any particular manager.”
Ahead of the Championship, Barrett accepts the extra games will ask more of referees but feels they are up to the challenge. “The referees will be delighted because there are more games. In Munster (senior hurling championship), you had four games before and now you will have 11 in total. Leinster will have the same.
“We’ll have to take that into consideration because there will be weekends where we have two senior games in Munster and the same in Leinster. We’ll be ready for that. It’s a great opportunity for the referees to step up to the plate when the Championship panels are decided next month. I don’t see problems but the turnaround will be very quick, Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. Referees will be in action more often whether they are in the middle of the field or on the line. They have to be ready for that but they will be, I have no doubt about that.”
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