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Curley to join referee exodus

FRESH from the defection of one high profile referee, Gaelic football has lost another of its best known officials to retirement. Brian White's switch to hurling has been quickly followed by Mick Curley's decision to retire from all grades of refereeing.

FRESH from the defection of one high profile referee, Gaelic football has lost another of its best known officials to retirement.

Brian White's switch to hurling has been quickly followed by Mick Curley's decision to retire from all grades of refereeing. Curley has informed officials in Croke Park and in his native Galway that he no longer wants to be considered for matches.

"I've had a good innings and the time is right to go," said the 51-year-old Salthill-based Garda superintendent.

Curley shot to prominence in the mid to late 1990s and refereed the 1999 All-Ireland final between Meath and Cork. He was also the Irish referee for the 1998 and '99 International Rules tests and refereed finals in all four provinces, including three in Connacht. Galway's presence in four (including one replay) All-Ireland finals at a time when he was most prominent probably denied him the honour of another final. Curley admitted he was finding it increasingly difficult to reach the standards of fitness required to referee at the top level. "It's not that easy to achieve any more and I've had ongoing problems with a knee cartilage. Anyway there are a lot of promising referees on the horizon and it's only right to give them a chance now," he explained.

Curley had a few high profile clashes with managers at the height of his powers. The most infamous was the after the Cavan/Wexford League clash in Breffni Park in 1999 when he was struck by then Wexford manager JJ Barrett. Barrett was contrite afterwards but had to serve a two-year ban.

"That incident has long been buried by the two of us. We met up not long afterwards and he came down to Galway one afternoon for lunch. There are isolated moments like that in sport but thankfully they are not common," he revealed.

Curley feels there the rules task force have been too hasty with their recent changes and expressed a personal preference for the retention of the 'sin bin'.

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