Referees' chief insists verbal intimidation not a big issue in football
The head of the GAA's refereeing appointments committee has insisted that verbal intimidation is not a big problem in football.
Willie Barrett said that it was not an issue commonly raised by referees, presumably because they hadn't experienced it to any great degree.
"I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but it's not something that referees bring up as an area of real concern. And if it does happen and referees are aware of it, they will deal with it. They have the power to do that under the rules," he said.
Despite those assurances, there is widespread anecdotal evidence that 'verbals' are being used as a means of either provoking or intimidating opponents, with the latest claims coming from Tipperary after the All-Ireland U-21 football final last Saturday.
"We had the boys well-versed about what to expect verbally and not to react," said Tipperary manager Tommy Toomey in the controversial aftermath, during which Tyrone counterpart Feargal Logan was prevented from visiting the Tipp dressing-room.
Tipperary man Barrett made no comment on the U-21 final, but said that, in general, 'verbals' weren't regarded a big problem.
"Obviously things can be said without the referee or the other officials hearing them. But with refs miked up now, it's easy for linesmen or umpires to draw attention if they hear something. And obviously if the referee hears it himself, he will deal with it," said Barrett, a former top line hurling referee.
A seminar will be held this weekend for the referees who will take charge of this year's All-Ireland championships.
Barrett expects matters relating to the black card to command more attention that sledging.
"There are a few areas - such as pulling down - that need to be looked at. The line between what's deliberate and what's not can be very narrow. We're trying to get it right," he said.