Respect is a two-way street says Tyrone administrator Eugene McConnell

Players are entitled to expect referees to show them respect says Eugene McConnell  
Players are entitled to expect referees to show them respect says Eugene McConnell  

RESPECT for referees is a two-way street and players are equally entitled to expect match officials to reciprocate, a top Tyrone administrator has said.

Eugene McConnell, who heads up the county’s Referees Committee, believes discipline will improve if all those on the field of play develop a mutual understanding: “Referees too must show similar sentiments if it is to work both ways,” he says in his report to Tuesday night’s annual convention.

“A very genuine piece of advice and, if everyone takes heed and does practice what they preach, there would be less problems.”

But McConnell, himself a former inter-county referee, contends that much work remains to be done in cultivating an atmosphere in which officials are free from abuse from players, mentors and supporters.

“No-one can argue that without a referee there will be no game is an undeniable fact. Sadly there still isn’t a greater appreciation of the role of a referee," he adds.

“Time and time again, talk is cheap and the poor referee is still the poor relation and continues to bear the brunt of all the criticism and ridicule. The cop-out option is to blame the referee, it’s always their fault. The mentality amongst our supporters and players as well as coaches and managers must change.

“If we are really serious about respect, it must come from the top down, GAA officials, team managers, mentors, trainers, plus the players must all lead from the front. If everyone can see that those in positions of authority are seen to be the role model as regards total respect shown to the referee and his officials, there is no reason why this approach as the accepted norm cannot soon rub off and the supporters and club members will be expected to follow suit resulting in everyone being all on the same wavelength.”

And he insists a zero tolerance approach must be taken in relation to attitudes towards refs: “There can be no tolerance in allowing anyone to show disrespect towards the referee," he says.

“The referee deserves to be shown equal treatment similar to that shown towards the players. When both are deemed as equal, both will be shown and given the due respect they rightly deserve.”