Cork chief executive believes GAA has ‘clear crisis’ when it comes to referees

Kevin O’Donovan acknowledges beach training session ‘simply should not have happened’

Cork GAA chief executive Kevin O’Donovan believes the GAA has a ‘clear crisis’ over a shortage of referees. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Cork GAA chief executive Kevin O’Donovan believes the GAA has a ‘clear crisis’ over a shortage of referees. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Echoing a growing national mood, Cork GAA chief executive Kevin O’Donovan has called for “an increased” focus on “the recruitment and retention of referees”. He made the comments in his annual report, which will be presented to this Saturday’s annual GAA county convention.

“A clear crisis now facing the Association is the shortage of referees,” he says. “While there remains a band of outstanding officials operating across the county, it is clear that the numbers are not increasing in line with the number of games now being played at all levels.

“An increased focus will be required in all units on the recruitment and retention of referees and a zero-tolerance approach to abuse of officials must be adhered to.

“Indeed the now seemingly automatic reflex to appeal almost any proposed penalty is most disappointing. Clubs have a responsibility here to discourage those that they must know to be guilty from submitting frivolous appeals and thus undermining the credibility of referees and their reports.”

In thanking outgoing football manager Ronan McCarthy for “his stewardship over a challenging period” O’Donovan also acknowledged that the controversial training session last January in Youghal “simply should not have happened”.

McCarthy was suspended for 12 weeks for organising the training during a closed season period when Covid concerns and the national case load were running very high.

“One issue which caused heated discussion nationally was the events at Redbarn on Youghal beach in January,” said O’Donovan. “While intentions may have been good and rules may have been misunderstood by the organisers, the gathering simply should not have happened.”

He also said that he was “positive” about the further stabilisation of the county’s finances.

“This resulted in combined board and stadium losses of €208,000 [Ebitda – earnings before interest, tax and depreciation] for 2021 in comparison to combined losses of €915,000 for 2020 and €646,000 for 2019. Of course, when depreciation and interest are added, losses for the year exceed €2 million and the rate at which the stadium is being depreciated will require further consideration at a future date.”

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