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'That opt-in or opt-out clause applies for referees as much as players' - concern among officials ahead of GAA return

Meath whistler David Coldrick says ‘there are referees that have very valid concerns.’

David Coldrick (file pic).
David Coldrick (file pic).

MEATH OFFICIAL DAVID Coldrick says several referees have serious concerns surrounding the GAA’s accelerated return.

It was announced last week that club teams can return to contact training on 29 June, though 20 July was the initial date for that progression.

Challenge games can also resume next Monday, with GAA pitches opening for non-contact training from Wednesday. Club fixtures can be staged from 17 July, while the previously slated inter-county dates remain the same with training starting on 14 September and competitions set to kick off on 17 October.

Inter-county football whistler Coldrick — who has been in regular contact with other referees — says there is concern among his peers and some are undecided about whether or not to return.

“You can’t eliminate the threat, it’s about truing to minimise it,” he told Des Cahill on RTÉ Radio 1′s Sunday Sport. “What the GAA and Croke Park have done from a refereeing point of view is try to make it as safe as possible.

“Like players, referees are being asked to weigh up the risks involved and make individual decisions based on their own personal circumstances. That opt-in or opt-out clause applies for referees as much as it does for players and everybody else involved in the GAA.

I think there are referees that have very, very valid concerns. I know from talking to referees that they are weighing up family, where they might have elderly parents, and thoughts on their own jobs and employment, if they were to contract the virus.

“All referees want to return to the game but whether it’s right at this point in time….

“I know that they’re weighing it up. I haven’t heard of any saying they wouldn’t [return] but there is a lot of thinking going on from a refereeing point of view, as I’m sure is the case with players as well.”

david-coldrick-talks-to-mickey-harte-after-the-game Coldrick with Tyrone boss Mickey Harte. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

With contact training and challenge games permitted from Monday onwards after the GAA fast-tracked its return-to-play roadmap at pace with the government, Coldrick expects the situation to be reviewed on a week-to-week basis.

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“I’ve read the safe return to play documentation and I’ve been through the e-learning module, it’s very comprehensive,” the Blackhall Gaels clubman added. “The advisory group have put a lot of thought into this.

But as we open it up and see games played over the first couple of weeks at club level, we need to see how it goes and learn from the things that go well and things that need further work on.

“I think it will be week-to-week as it reopens.”

“It’s going to be tricky, but we’re going to have to work through it together — both players and referees,” Coldrick added, when later discussing the worries regarding close contact tackling, spitting and players surrounding referees to appeal decisions.

He also delved deeper into further guidelines and rules which must be followed, potential penalties and much more. You can listen to the full interview below.


Source: RTĖ Sport/SoundCloud

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Emma Duffy

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