THE great debate about Cork referees being too strict in their handling of hurling games was defended by former inter-county referee Diarmuid Kirwan who believes the men in the middle are easy targets.
“There are two ways of looking at this issue as there was two prominent GAA men in recent years came out in Cork stating the referees in our city and county have the game destroyed as we were supposedly too strict,” Diarmuid Kirwan said.
“In my book, the majority of referees will allow the game to flow. I have allowed games to move at a fast pace... for me, the biggest problem in Cork are the mentors who will shout referees down when they do not give frees.
“People need to think what they say because you cannot have referees allowing games to flow but then end up getting verbally abused because frees are not given.”
Kirwan also explained that referees as human beings can have bad days at the office.
“There can be days when referees find games going away from them as they have given players an inch and they have taken a foot and that’s hard when you have to get back in the mix as the game is on the verge of exploding.”
In Kirwan’s opinion, the role of refereeing and his officials are crucial in the sport and should be respected more.
I have always said in a game there are three teams and the role of the team of officials is crucial as the game cannot start with them.
“The majority of referees are dedicated to the cause because despite what people say there is no money to be made when you weigh up the hours you actually give to the sport.”
Last season Kirwan became involved with appointing referees to Rebel Óg and was shocked when he saw the work that goes on behind the scenes.
“Again I was stunned when I witnessed the work that the officers of Rebel Óg do and I think the people that criticise them are way off the mark as all they are trying to do is cater for hundreds of kids in many grades in this city and county."
The present pandemic is causing huge problems for the sport with so many people sidelined with children finding it hard to cope with the boredom.
“It must be very hard but at the end of the day my advice is to stay positive as the good days will be back and hopefully next month children will be allowed train and get back doing what they love best.”