GAA accepts responsibilty for intimidation of referee
Director general not be moved on question of pitch invasions
Referee Joe McQuillan is confronted by Kildare supporters at the end of Saturday’s football qualifier at St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
GAA director general Páraic Duffy stated yesterday that the association accepts full responsibility for the jostling and intimidation of referee Joe McQuillan after Saturday’s football qualifier in Newbridge by Kildare supporters.
This is the second time in three years that a referee has been confronted after a senior football championship game. Martin Sludden was attacked by Louth supporters after the 2010 Leinster final .
“I don’t know that he was assaulted,” said Duffy at yesterday’s championship launch in Donegal. “It shouldn’t have happened, and that’s something that we have to take responsibility for. It’s our responsibility to steward the fixtures, and what happened on Saturday night was absolutely unacceptable and it’s up to us to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
However, Duffy indicated that nothing further would be coming from the incident. McQuillan was jostled by several Kildare supporters as the officials sought the sanctuary of the dressingroom after Tyrone’s 1-11 to 0-12 victory.
“First of all, it’s our fixture – there’s no point me passing the buck to anybody else,” said Duffy. “It was a Central Council fixture, therefore the responsibility rests with us. We have to look at what happened in Newbridge and we’ve got to accept responsibility for it. I’m not going to blame anybody else.”
That McQuillan had to walk under the main stand, where supporters were free to exit, now looks the main issue when examining the viability of using St Conleth’s Park for future championship games.
“We can’t allow that to happen again, there cannot be a situation where referees have to walk from the pitch into dressingrooms via an area that is open, that just can’t happen again in Newbridge or anywhere else. That just has to be rectified. It wasn’t acceptable.”
When asked whether the situation could have been avoided, Duffy responded: “In fairness, maybe we should hold our hands up on that.
“You could have said it should have gone to somewhere to get a bigger crowd, but in fairness to Kildare they made improvements, everything was fine except that.
“But what happened to us on Saturday underlined that there is an issue in Newbridge and that will have to be addressed before there is a game there again.”
Duffy also addressed the issue of pitch invasions, which have become a common feature again this season following Limerick’s Munster hurling championship win and Monaghan’s success in Clones on Sunday.
“I enjoyed the experience last Sunday, it was fantastic for Monaghan supporters, but it is dangerous. It is great when everything goes off well but there is no change on our position on that.
“The problem is in Croke Park when you have huge numbers of people there. You have potentially 80,000 people there. In Clones you have potentially 32,000 people there. Pitches are broadly the same size.
“The other huge problem with Croke Park is when people come onto the pitch, they all go out onto Jones’ Road and that’s what brought this to a head, when crowds are facing in different directions, there is a problem outside of the stadium as well as inside.”
Duffy also confirmed the All-Ireland football quarter-finals will take place on Saturday and Sunday of the August bank holiday weekend.