Davy Fitzgerald believes the GAA are going to have to be very 'hard-handed' with people who assault referees and players

Davy Fitzgerald believes the GAA are going to have to be very 'hard-handed' with people who assault referees and players

WATERFORD'S DAVY FITZGERALD has claimed that the GAA will have to come down hard on people who assault referees and players. 

This comes after an incident where an individual had an altercation with a referee in a minor game in Wexford. The incident caused the game to be abandoned last weekend.

Another referee was also a victim of an alleged assault in Roscommon in another minor game in August. The person responsible is set to receive a whopping 96-week ban from all GAA activities

Fitzgerald believes that the GAA must act to stamp out the growing behaviour in the game. Speaking to the launch of Londis' sponsorship of RTÉ show Ireland’s Fittest Family, "We can't tolerate hitting anybody, any official in the GAA," he told media reporters at the event.

"We should be above that, and we're going to have to deal with that, end of story.

"Whether they get something really wrong, really right, there is no room for it. And I'd be a fella that would have given out to referees and would have found it hard to understand decisions. But it's a tough job. For anyone to do that job is incredibly tough.

"I think it has always been there. If you look back at the last number of years, there always have been incidents. It has been highlighted; it's happened a small bit more frequent lately.

"My feeling is, the GAA are going to have to be very hard-handed in how they deal with it. They have to make one or two examples. If they have to, they have to. End of story."

The Clare native believes that better communication between referee's and team staff could reduce the issues

"What I'd really like to see, even from a county point of view, is more communication with the referees," he said.

"If you look at rugby, there's communication before and after, probably. And it's nice to have a bit of communication so you can understand their side. It shouldn't be 'Us versus Them', because let's be honest, refereeing is a tough, tough job. No matter what, whether we like decisions they make or don't make, we have to make sure we protect them and mind them.

"The referees themselves know they're not always right. And once a referee can put his hand up and say 'I deliberately did not go at any team to do them', we as managers have to accept totally that they're going to make mistakes. We have to accept that, and we have to get on with it.

"I would love to explore the idea of being able to communicate in a proper manner with the referee."