Davy Fitzgerald: 'There is no place for attacking a referee or an official'

The new Waterford manager said the GAA should take a zero-tolerance approach.

Image: Kyran O'Brien

NEW WATERFORD MANAGER Davy Fitzgerald says a zero-tolerance approach must be taken to punish individuals who physically abuse officials. 

There have been several alleged assaults on referees in recent weeks and Fitzgerald believes the association needs a hard response. 

“We can’t tolerate hitting anybody, any official in the GAA, whether they get something really wrong, really right, there is no room for it,” he said. 

“I’d be a fella that would have given out to referees and would have found it hard to understand decisions but it’s a tough job. For anyone to do that job is incredibly tough.

“My feeling is the GAA are going to have to be very hard-handed in how they deal with it.”

The Clare man acknowledged his own disagreements with officials in the past and said a clear line of communication would benefit all parties. 

“What I’d really like to see, even from a county point of view, is more communication with the referees. If you look at rugby, there is communication before and after.

“It’s nice to have a bit of communication so you can understand their side. It shouldn’t be us vs them because let’s be honest, refereeing is a tough, tough job.

“No matter what, whether we like the decisions they make or don’t make, we have to make sure we protect them and mind them.”

Despite his various run-ins with referees during an often troubled relationship, Fitzgerald stressed managers have to accept mistakes will happen. 

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“The referees themselves know they’re not always right. And once a referee can put his hand up and say ‘I deliberately did not go at any team to do them,’ we as managers have to accept totally that they’re going to make mistakes. We have to accept that and we have to get on with it.

“But there is no place for attacking a referee or an official. There is no place in the GAA for that.

“We should be above that, and we’re going to have to deal with that, end of story. We’re going to have to be hard-hitting.” 

Davy Fitzgerald was speaking at the launch of Londis’ sponsorship of Ireland’s Fittest Family. The tenth season starts on Sunday 2nd October. 

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