UNDER COVER Well-known referee Kevin Connelly (left) from Hollymount-Carramore is pictured with some of his umpires, Matthew Gill, James Regan and Jarlath Jennings after they officiated at last Sunday's Mayo SFC semi-final between Ballintubber and Ballina Stephenites. Pic: Michael Donnelly
A LEADING Mayo GAA official has called on all GAA members — players, supporters, coaches and administrators — to band together immediately and address the alarming rise in assaults on officials and players.
Mayo GAA secretary Dermot Butler told The Mayo News last night (Monday) that the situation was a growing problem in the association and called for urgent action to be taken ‘from the top down and bottom up’.
Butler was speaking just hours after the Munster GAA Council announced it was investigating an incident in Tipperary where an Under-9 player was allegedly grabbed by the neck by an adult during a blitz on Saturday.
In Mayo, an U-17 county football championship semi-final between Castlebar Mitchels and Westport was abandoned recently after an incident took place while The Mayo News understands there an incident also occurred recently in an Under-15 match in the county.
Just last month a referee received hospital care after an underage GAA game in Roscommon had to be abandoned.
“This is frightening and it has to stop,” Butler told The Mayo News.
“We cannot wait for other people to do it. We cannot wait for Croke Park to put working groups in place. We cannot rely on token gestures. We have to make a decision at every level of the association to stop this and stop it now.
The Crossmolina native admitted that he is regularly shocked by the level of abuse directed towards GAA referees and admitted he won’t be taking charge of the whistle any time soon.
“I wouldn’t ref a game for all the tea in China. We used to talk about the ‘Give Respect, Get Respect’ initiative but that went out with the Covid I think.
“I even see people roaring and shouting at refs at kids games. What are they thinking? Do they not realise the example they’re showing? That’s why the onus is on all of us to stamp this out. Clubs have to become more pro-active and tell people to stay away if they’re not prepared to show respect. We cannot wait for someone else to do it. We all have to stand up and address it now before it’s too late.”
Meanwhile, a meeting of Mayo GAA’s Competitions Control Committee will be held tonight (Tuesday) to fix dates, times, venues and officials for the upcoming county senior, intermediate, junior and junior B finals.
The current spate of bad weather means holding all finals in Hastings MacHale Park may not be possible according to county secretary Dermot Butler. The Crossmolina clubman said every effort will be made to get the games into the county ground but weather will certainly have a part to play.
“Ideally, the junior B and intermediate finals would be on Saturday and the junior A and senior deciders on Sunday, but if we get bad weather next week it’s hard to see Castlebar being fit to hold four games in a little over 24 hours. The CCC will look at all options,” he added.