‘It’s a decision that’s been made for me’ – Referee James McGrath quits after All-Ireland final snub

HURLING REFEREE JAMES McGrath has announced his resignation after missing out on officiating in this year’s All-Ireland senior final.

Wexford’s James Owens will take charge on Sunday, 19 August as Limerick face Galway at Croke Park, with Tipperary’s Fergal Horgan on standby referee duty and Kilkenny’s Sean Cleere the linesman, while Carlow’s Patrick Murphy has been named sideline official.

McGrath, who refereed the 2012 and 2013 All-Ireland final replays, is not involved at all on match day, and he therefore has opted to hang up his whistle.

“I’m not your second choice nor your backup plan,” McGrath wrote on Facebook. “Either choose me or lose me if I’m not your first choice.

“It is with a heavy heart that I make this decision but I feel my decision has ultimately been made by CRAC [Central Referee Appointment Committee] for me to resign from the national referees panel with immediate effect.

It is final and irreversible given the lack of trust, confidence and integrity by CRAC and I feel betrayed by the association as a consequence given my 18 years of unbroken volunteerism to the association on the national referee’s panel.

“I wish to place on record my thanks to all my umpires, David Hennessy, David Clune, Tom McNicholas, Johnny Fitzpatrick, Alan Coyne, Paul Reville, Jimmy Weldon, among others, and thank all the loyal GAA diehards that I became friends with since I commenced refereeing back in 1996 [Maynooth University], Leinster panel ‘98 and the national panel in 2000.

“Wishing James Owens and Johnny Murphy, referees and all officials the very best of luck in the minor and senior finals on Sunday, 19 August next.

“God Bless a chairde, thanks again for all your loyal support and good wishes.”

James McGrath speaks to RTE Sport about his decision to retire from the inter-county referee panel in the light of the appointments committee not appointing him as one the match officials for the 2018 final pic.twitter.com/eHrGrkU2wQ

— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) August 8, 2018

McGrath also spoke to RTÉ Sport‘s Marty Morrissey, where he re-iterated the reasons behind his decision. He added:

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“In light of the central referees appointment committee’s decision not to include me on the team of officials for the All-Ireland senior hurling final… “I have had a brilliant 18 years refereeing at the top level. It is not a decision I take lightly, it is a decision that has been made for me.

The general feeling among a lot of the public — friends and indeed members of own club, county and community — would have said I had a very good chance of refereeing the final.

“It is hugely disappointing not to be involved because the All-Ireland final is a special occasion for every match official. I wish James Owens and his team the best of luck. James is a very capable referee and no doubt he will have a brilliant game on the 19th.”

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