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McGrath enjoys FAI Cup Final


MAKING HIS POINT Referee Damien MacGraith is pictured during Sunday’s Extra.ie FAI Cup Final  between Derry City and Shelbourne at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Pic: Sportsfile

John Corless

MAYO referee Damien McGraith was in charge of the whistle for the Extra.ie FAI Cup Final last Sunday. Derry City won the most one-sided final in years by four goals to nil, and the general anonymity of McGrath around the match signals a job well done.
When a team is beaten 4-0, as Shelbourne were, it’s harder to blame the referee anyway.
But having watched the match, this correspondent agrees there was nothing to blame him for.
“We were allowed to referee the game on the day and the players responded to how we refereed it. I was happy with it,” Damien told The Mayo News.
“It was a super, super, super experience. It was a great day, a great occasion, the match went really, really well for everybody, and nobody is talking about the refereeing team today, thankfully. You want to be anonymous. You don’t want to have any bearing on any of the goals or the outcome of the game.
“There was a penalty in injury-time but that was very clear cut and came when Derry were already three-up, and nobody argued with it. So, I’m very happy with the performance and I think everyone else was as well.
“We were proud of our achievements as a refereeing team on the day.”
The Pullathomas native was in constant radio contact with his assistants on Sunday and was prompted by one of them for the penalty awarded to Derry at the death.
“The attacker was goal-side; the Shels captain attempts to play the ball and doesn’t, and he catches the Derry player. And my assistant is in my ear instantly, shouting ‘penalty, penalty, penalty,’ which was my own view as well. The radio communication is great.”
The 32,000 plus attendance was the biggest crowd that the Swinford-based teacher has ever refereed in front of, but he has performed in front of much bigger crowds as an Assistant or Fourth Official, on UEFA or FIFA duty.
Amongst the attendance in the Aviva on Sunday, was one official referee’s observer and forty others, as well as 65 of Damien McGraith’s refereeing colleagues.  
“The feedback was very positive,” he said. “There were no issues at all.”
Damien has a short break now from his League of Ireland duties before training resumes and the annual seminar takes place. There is no respite from his Mayo League duties, however. After the warm-up gig of the FAI Cup Final, Damien returns to more serious matters when he takes charge of three matches in Division One of the Westaro Mayo Masters League tomorrow night (Wednesday) at Solar 21 Park.


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