I'm just another official like any of the lads – Farrelly
SHE made GAA history last Sunday but Cavan official Maggie Farrelly insists that she does not want to be regarded as some kind of novelty or a trailblazer.
"I don't see myself as anyone who is trying to break down barriers," Farrelly said, after becoming the first female linesperson to officiate in a senior inter-county GAA game at the high-profile Dr McKenna Cup clash between Tyrone and Derry.
"I'm just another official like any of the lads and just referee for my own personal enjoyment and for the challenge of it," stressed the Laragh woman (pictured).
"I do the same fitness tests as the lads and the same written tests as them so I don't see any difference."
"Obviously I was delighted to get to work at a senior inter-county game, but it's one thing to run the line at that level and another to referee one and I still have a long way to go before that."
Like all GAA referees, Farrelly has had to progress through the ranks from juvenile to senior games and is still yet to referee a men's senior championship match within her own county, which will be the next step in her development.
Her highest achievement with a whistle so far was refereeing the Cavan Division 1 league final (men's) last winter, but she had previously run the line at the Ulster club SFC quarter-final between St Galls and Tempo, and also acted as the fourth official for the Down/Monaghan minor championship game last summer.
"I first started because Cavan had a bye-law that every club had to nominate a referee," she said.
"Tomas McKenna asked me to do it locally and it just went from there.
"I started off refereeing ladies football and camogie and then did boys' underage matches and moved up to men's reserve games and B championships.
"Being nominated to join the Ulster referees' academy in 2011 was a big step for me and this is my first year on the Ulster panel."
"Men are stronger and faster so the pace is different, but refereeing is really about knowing the rules and applying them properly, so it doesn't matter to me whether I'm working at a men's or a women's game," she added.