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Shockwaves as assault-victim referee quits in protest over ban reduction

THE GAA's inconsistent approach to discipline came under scrutiny last night when a referee dramatically resigned after a punishment against an Ulster club was reduced.

Ray Matthews took the drastic course of action in the wake of the Ulster Council's decision to amend some of the initial penalties handed out to the Rasharkin club in Antrim.

Rasharkin followers were found to have attacked Matthews after an U-21 game in October and a series of big bans and penalties were imposed by the Antrim County Board.

The club was originally banned from all competitions above minor grade, but following their appeal to the Ulster Council they will now be allowed to play in adult league and championship competitions in Antrim next year.


Rasharkin's home ground will remain closed for senior matches in 2012 and club's adult teams will have to play all their games at away venues.

The Ulster Council's appeal judgment said that any further transgressions over the next two years could see the original bans re-imposed. Rasharkin's appeal to the Ulster Council only concerned the sanctions handed to the club -- not the hefty individual bans which saw one player, two club members and a member of the Rasharkin coaching staff expelled.

Matthews, however, said he was extremely annoyed, disappointed and disgusted at the outcome of the appeal.

The referee added that he had feared for his life during the ugly assault, which left him being hospitalised. The Antrim County Board does have the option of appealing against the provincial body's ruling.

Irish Independent