NEGATIVE, UNFAIR and unwarranted criticism of match officials from team mentors on sidelines is beginning to "cast a serious cloud" on the very necessary role of the referee in GAA games.
That's according to Sligo Referees Administrator, Pat Conway.
In his report to the upcoming County Convention at the Radisson Hotel he said: "Club officials and players themselves need to consider the negative attitude towards referees which seems to have infiltrated most clubs."
While players and officials may not agree with some decisions referees may make, it was important that the negativity that has crept into the game did not adversely affect refereeing, the Administrator warned.
In his fourth year as Referees Administrator, Mr. Conway said he was very pleased with the standard of refereeing in the county.
It was particularly pleasing to have three referees from Sligo on the national panel and a further four on the Connacht panel.
More recently, a further two of the county's young referees had been recruited to the Connacht Academy. "Such feats clearly indicate the recent progression of refereeing in the countyand are a stark reminder of the advantages of our continued training and development programmes," Mr. Conway said.
The Referees Administrator revealed that this year, 15 people attended the referees' foundation course, the majority of whom were under 17 years.
In a new initiative a foundation course in It Sligo was held at the end of 2011 in the hope of targeting new students with an interest in refereeing.
This was rolled out throughout the five counties of Connacht and further afield under the guidance of Connacht Games Manager, John Tobin.
In Sligo, 13 IT students participated from various counties around Connacht, four of whom were from county Sligo.
These four students and the 11 referees formed part of a Sligo Academy, which enabled them to referee up to under-14 level for their first year.
The Referees Administrator appealed to those clubs with no referee to encourage interested members of participate in a foundation course in January.
Mr. Conway thanked all of the 60 referees who took part in active refereeing in 2012 and all those who had helped throughout the year.