Report was “frightening”
Shock at disciplinary details
A “damning indictment” was how Victor O’Shaunghnessy described the details of incidents of abuse towards Wicklow referees during juvenile games that were contained within Eddie Leonard’s report at the Coiste na nOg convention on Thursday evening last.
“It’s frightening,” added O’Shaughnessy, “we as an association cannot allow that to happen.
“It’s the most damning report I’ve read in quite some time. It’s not a surprise that more referees haven’t resigned. Who would want to suffer that abuse,” he said.
“I tell you one thing, it’s a disgrace. We should be ashamed of ourselves,” he concluded.
Leonard had outlined four separate incidents in his report including one where a referee was forced to take shelter in a club house, another where a referee was grabbed by the throat, and a third where a young referee had resigned after being verbally abused during a game.
“Disappointing that we had a number of issues in 2014,” wrote Leonard. “Ciaran Gaskin had to abandon an Under-14 hurling game was in Bray due to abuse and insults from an inter-county player who was acting as a mentor with his team. Game was between Bray Emmets and Avondale.
“Adam Fleming from Baltinglass resigned from officiating been subjected to dreadful verbal abuse by an adult at an Under-12 game in Hollywood.
“Despite speaking with Adam and pleading with him to re-consider, his words were “Why should I bother putting myself in that position, when I can be doing better things on a Monday evening”, I had to accept and respect Adam’s decision.
“Game was St. Kevin’s v Coolkenno.
“Pat Hickey was abused and aggressively confronted by team officials and a parent at an Under-14 championship game in Wicklow. Pat had to be taken into the St. Pat’s club house for his safety. Game was St. Patrick’s v Baltinglass.
“John Whyte was grabbed by the throat and abused at the end of the Under-14 ‘C’ final on October 12 in Annacurra.
“Then just for good measure at then same game, a club Juvenile Chairman was knocked out with a punch from a person from his own club while trying to help the referee. Game was Coolkenno v An Tochar.
The St. Pat’s club man had began his reporting of these events by applauding the referees who officiated at games.
“I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all our referees who officiated at games for Coiste na nOg in 2014.
“They are the true soldiers of our association and their commitment to our games should never be taken for granted.
“A special word of praise and thanks to Cathy Forde who joined us in 2014. Cathy was a great help and was always available by appointment or at short notice to officiate at any game.
“However, it was sad to hear and listen to at games some of the abuse and insults by team mentors, officials and players towards our referees.
“Some of the abuse and insults was very personal and is totally unwarranted.
“It will have to stop, and serious sanctions and penalties must be handed down.
“Once again, to all the referees, I sincerely thank you for your help, commitment and co-operation during 2014.
Leonard also warned that in the future he could see the Gardai being called to games if incidents such as these continued.
Coiste na Nog Chairman, Martin Fitzgerald had highlighted the disciplinary problems in his address earlier in the meeting where he had said: “There were some disciplinary problems during the year but the clubs dealt with them internally and that makes things easier for the C.C.C.,” he said.