GAA referees in Kilkenny will not perform their duties in the county this weekend because an abusive letter was allegedly sent to a referee.
The referee in question was officiating an U17 minor hurling game between Erins Own and Thomastown, which Thomastown won.
According to a report from The Irish Examiner, the letter was sent to the referee questioning his decisions in the game.
The writer of the letter also included a line indicating knowledge of the referee and his family's residence, as well as a wish for the referee to "die roaring with cancer".
Local gardaí are investigating the letter from the anonymous sender. Today, it was confirmed that a group of officials in the county will protest from Friday to Monday due to growing abuse directed towards them from the sidelines. As a result, all hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, and ladies' football fixtures have been cancelled.
More than 50 matches are off across Gaelic games in Kilkenny this weekend as match officials strike over an abusive letter allegedly sent to a referee https://t.co/rJTUYfOa9U
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) April 28, 2023
A statement on Kilkenny's website read: "Kilkenny Co Board has been informed that its referees are withdrawing their services this weekend (Friday to Monday inclusive) to highlight incidents of abuse directed at match officials in recent times.
"Kilkenny GAA does not condone any abusive behaviour and fully supports the GAA ethos of respecting our match officials. Our match officials are integral to the provision of games and all members of the GAA family, players, mentors, and supporters must acknowledge and respect this going forward. Kilkenny GAA will not be issuing any further comment at this time."
It is worth noting that in September of last year, Wexford GAA held a meeting in response to a series of incidents, which included attacks on referees and an instance of online abuse resulting in a six-month suspension.
As a result of the meeting, all coaches and mentors involved with club teams from U-11 to adult were required to participate in workshops that involved self-evaluation of their behavior towards match officials.
Failure to comply with this requirement resulted in referees not being provided for the club's games. Additionally, Wexford successfully advocated for a motion at Congress that eliminated the 96-week maximum ban imposed by the GAA on a member, allowing for stricter penalties for individuals who physically assault referees.
Similarly, in September, referees in Roscommon went on strike following an assault on a referee during an underage game.