The role of the referee in Gaelic games today has seen a dramatic rise of importance in consistency levels, and if one wrong decision is made, it can jeopardise their summer activity drastically.
Take for example, Cork’s Michael Collins. A few years back, he refereed a game between Dublin and Tyrone in the All-Ireland football championship in Croke Park.
He gave one particular player two yellow cards, but a momentary lapse in concentration led to the Clonakilty official forgetting to actually send the player off the pitch.
This decision led to Collins not being chosen for many high-profile games for a few seasons. Harsh, some would say, but again it highlights the recent spotlight shone on the men in black.
Other referees to suffer the fate of Collins include fellow Corkman Conor Lane, as well as Syl Doyle and Cormac Reilly.
Now let’s reverse the situation. If you are showing consistency in your refereeing, and you are indeed experienced, then you will be given more games in the busier end of the GAA season.
Referees such as Joe McQuillan (who was in charge of the recent Ulster final, and will again be on duty this weekend in the fourth-round qualifier between Laois and Meath) and David Coldrick are being rewarded with fine performances and awarded the role of officiating the major encounters this summer.
The Irish Independent reported that Coldrick will be the most utilised referee following this weekend’s games, having refereed five outings so far this year.
Coldrick was on the receiving end of scathing criticism from Tyrone boss Mickey Harte following his side’s loss to Kerry last weekend, but refereeing sources are said to be satisfied with Coldrick’s decision-making on the day.
Referee appearances thus far (including this weekend’s fourth-round qualifiers):
5 – David Coldrick (Meath)
4 – Joe McQuillan (Cavan); Marty Duffy (Sligo); Maurice Deegan (Laois); Rory Hickey (Clare); Barry Cassidy (Derry); Michael Duffy (Sligo); Eddie Kinsella (Laois); Derek Fahy (Longford)
3 – Martin Higgins (Fermanagh); Conor Lane (Cork); Cormac Reilly (Meath); Padraig Hughes (Armagh)
2 – Syl Doyle (Wexford); Padraig O’Sullivan (Kerry); Michael Collins (Cork)