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Referee David Gough opts out of 2020 GAA season due to social distancing guidelines

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Top Gaelic football referee David Gough. Photo: Sportsfile

Top Gaelic football referee David Gough. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Top Gaelic football referee David Gough. Photo: Sportsfile

Top referee David Gough will not be available to take charge of games in this year's rescheduled All-Ireland football championship amidst the ever-changing landscape of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Meathman is widely recognised as one of the best referees in the country and took charge of last year's drawn All-Ireland final.

However, he informed county board officials in Meath that he won't be available to take charge of club games, which are set to resume next month, as long as social distancing is required.

And he insists that the "same applies" for the senior inter-county game, which is scheduled for an October return.

"I spoke to the referees' coordinator from the Meath county board this morning (Thursday) and updated him," said the Slane clubman.

"As long as there is social distancing still in place I won't be taking charge of club matches in Meath for the foreseeable future. It's only two months since two metres seemed to be a life and death matter. If I go to town now I have to be two metres away from someone and wear a face mask at the same time which is HSE advice.

"So I don't understand how I can safely be in a confined space with 30-plus people on a football field and be socially distant. Until that changes I won't be coming back."

Gough's team of officials is made up of family members and the decision was made on the back of their own personal scenarios.

"It's not a decision I took lightly," he added. "I thought very hard about it. It's based on my own personal circumstances and those of my umpiring team and I didn't want to put them or myself (in harm's way) based on our personal situations. So at the moment we decided it's best not to return until social distancing isn't an issue on a Gaelic football field."

Sunday Indo Sport