After reading the comments attributed to Melvin Gaels senior manager, Billy Gavigan, in last week’s Leitrim Observer, I feel his comments regarding the performance of the referee should not go unchallenged. While admitting that the better team won, Mr. Gavigan then went on to criticise the referee and make disparaging remarks about the standard of football in Leitrim.
Because of GAA policy, referees can not comment on games they officiate in and are therefore an east target of blame for disgruntled or losing team managers. Mr. Gavigan says that “it’s no wonder that Leitrim football is so bad”. I don’t consider the standard of Leitrim football as bad, it mightn’t be as good as the Donegal county team; but standards are relative when it comes to GAA county and club football. Might I suggest that the reason the standard of football in Leitrim football is the way it is is due to standards of skills, fitness, physical strength and attitudes of players as well as the competencies of team mangers and coaches. Standards apply across the GAA spectrum, not just to referees.
I was an umpire at the league final and in all my years around GAA activities, I have never witnessed such a vitriolic atmosphere in any game. This emanated from the players, spectators and mentors of both teams. There were of course some honourable exceptions, but the mood in general was one of meanness and nastiness. The amount of “verbals” throughout was disgusting and some were of a very personal nature. Instead of looking elsewhere to point blame, each player, spectator and team mentor should take responsibility for their own words and actions. The referee was not responsible for the cynicism, fouling, time wasting, insults and general nastiness around the league final. I would agree with independent observers like John Connolly, Joe Flynn and John Lynch, to name a few, that Seamus Mulhern did a fantastic job in keeping order on the game and stop it from descending into an utter debacle and a total shame on Leitrim football. Referees, like all other participants in our games, need support not abuse. When all the participants in our games take responsibility for their own performances and standards then the standard of Leitrim football will undoubtedly improve.
Mise le meas