GAA Football

Referee Barry Cassidy's big breakthrough

Referee Barry Cassidy
By Padraig Kelly

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WHILE this weekend’s All-Ireland semi-final action could provide landmark moments for some of the four teams involved, it’s set to also be a major occasion for Derry referee Barry Cassidy who will take charge of Dublin’s clash with Galway on Saturday evening.

The Bellaghy man has been on the Championship referees’ panel since 2012, but this undoubtedly will be highest assignment yet as he had never even taken charge of an All-Ireland quarter-final prior to this season.

The introduction of the Super 8s allowed him to break that particular duck though as he officiated Galway’s victory over Kerry at Croke Park last month, and now a first semi-final will follow.

Cassidy had a significant breakthrough back in 2010 when he took charge of his first senior county final as Coleraine claimed the Derry title at the expense of Ballinderry. He also refereed the 2013 decider as the Shamrocks powered past Ballinascreen.

Cassidy’s stock was high in those early years and in a 2011 interview with The Irish News, Pat McEnaney tipped him to rise to the top.

He was a linesman in that year’s All-Ireland Minor final and the following season he refereed his first Division One game as Down defeated Mayo in Castlebar.

It was a difficult start to life in the top flight as he was escorted off by stewards with the home fans unhappy with a number of his decisions.

In the six seasons since he has only actually refereed a further half dozen Division One games adding weight to the belief that he has been viewed as a tier two referee – but this appointment may be the match that elevates him to the top bracket.

Of course Anthony Nolan’s appointment for the second semi-final has also garnered plenty of interest given that he will be the man in the middle of the heavyweight Ulster clash between Tyrone and Monaghan.

The Wicklow man was added to the Championship referees’ panel in 2014 but has quickly ascended through the ranks.

His big games have included the 2017 All-Ireland Minor final and Leinster final as well as this year’s Division One final.

Meanwhile, Westmeath official James McGrath has resigned from the hurling panel after failing to earn a spot in the officiating team for this year’s All-Ireland final between Galway and Limerick on August 19.

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