Sport Gaelic Football

Thursday 27 April 2017

Ref switches county after bans reduced

Eugene MacHale
Eugene MacHale

Gerry McLaughlin

A FURIOUS Sligo referee has taken drastic action and got an inter-county transfer over county board decisions that made him feel he was "treated like dirt".

St Molaise Gaels whistler Eugene MacHale, a former Mayo star, has switched to Donegal.

The sensational development comes after MacHale's disgust at the Hearings Committee's decision to reduce bans recommended by the Sligo Competitions Control Committee (CCC) and the board's failure to appoint him to referee championship matches.

MacHale (pictured) is angry that the Hearings Committee rescinded the red card awarded to St Mary's player Mark Breheny, one of the top forwards in the county.

According to MacHale, Sligo's disciplinary chiefs got it "completely wrong" but he claimed that nothing was done about it.

"What kind of a signal is that sending out to our youth?"

He added that referees in Sligo were treated like mushrooms.

"We are kept in the dark and fed plenty of crap. I am not turning my back on the GAA. I know I have many faults as a referee but I always did my best after playing for a lifetime," he fumed.

"I took up refereeing to put something back but you can only take so much -- the Hearings Committee over the past few years have been a complete joke."

In 2009, the Sligo CCC recommended a 48-week ban after Coolaney/ Mullinabreena player Raymond Gallagher was involved in an altercation with MacHale. That suspension was reduced to 12 weeks on appeal to the Hearings Committee.

And in December last year, Curry referee Malachy Maher was banned for six months for verbally abusing MacHale in the U-20 county final. That ban was reduced to two months on appeal -- which MacHale saw as the final straw.

"From the start of the match until the end I was abused by a fellow referee. That was very hurtful," he said.

"The time for being silent is over. Well I am taking a stand as I am sick of all this denial and I am doing this because I care about the GAA, and I am sick of being treated like dirt."

Irish Independent

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