The state of refereeing
REFEREES often bear the brunt of it when big decisions have to be made. In fact, very few of us could honestly say that we’ve never uttered a bad word in the direction of a referee.
But one of the top figures in refereeing circles believes that if the public were aware of the commitment the men in the middle apply to their own game, we might all take a different view.
Former Donegal whistler Mick McGrath is one of the leading referee administrators working under new referees committee chairman Pat McEneaney. He believes that those in the stands and on the TV punditry sofas are often too quick to point the finger of blame in the direction of the men in black.
This is McGrath’s fourth year on the Croke Park committee, having been brought in under Christy Cooney and retained under new GAA President Liam O’Neill. He reveals that referees are acutely aware of the pressure on them, and are more determined now than ever to get those key match decisions right.
“The fear of making a mistake is huge in the refereeing world. And it’s not about a pick up off the ground or a push in the back, it’s about what happens when you’re involved around those key incidents in a match.
“Key incidents are defined as follows; Getting a robust tackle wrong, not issuing a yellow or a red card when it should have been issued, and making an incorrect decision which leads directly to a score. Those are the key incidents in a match which the referee strives not to get wrong.
“It’s a throwaway remark that people make at times that it’s only natural for a fella to get some of the calls wrong. Our referees are striving to get none of them wrong. Just like the free-taker wants to score every one he kicks, it’s the same with the decisions the referee makes.”
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published on Thursday July 5. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or you can purchase the online version – for only 90p – by clicking here