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Page last updated at 15:08 GMT, Monday, 12 May 2008 16:08 UK

Underage games 'toughest' to ref

Tyrone referee Michael Hughes
Michael Hughes says parents must behave better on the sideline

A top Tyrone referee has said that underage matches are the most difficult to officiate at in modern day GAA.

Michael Hughes told BBC Radio Ulster's Sunday Sportsound that "intercounty matches are much easier" to control than club games.

"The worst abuse you will get in club games are underage matches," he added.

"And it's not to do with managers or coaches. It's the mothers and fathers and guardians who think their child is the Peter Canavan of tomorrow."

Hughes added that he has had to walk away from one Under-12 game.

"It was an under-12 game in my own club, a challenge game.

"I handed the whistle to one of the parents and said:'You seem to be able to do this better'."

Hughes believes that the abuse dished out by parents to referees is "something we have to be concerned with".


"It's always been there but I think it has become more prevalent.

"Two years ago in Tyrone, we started an under-17 referees development squad and we got 22 young people to referee.

"They went out at under-eight, under-10 and under-12 blitzes but we have (only) two of them left because of the abuse.

"If you are getting abused at that age, you are not going to get any referees because people will go:'Why bother'."

Hughes also spoke of his decision to abandon a senior club game between Tyrone outfits Ardboe and Dromore a year ago.

"That was nothing to do with (verbal abuse).

"But the first thing a referee has to realise in our games is that 30 people have to go to work the next day so the protection of players is paramount.

"(That day) I felt I couldn't protect the players so I felt I had to abandon the game."

see also
Ardboe set to appeal 12-month ban
19 Apr 07 |  Gaelic Games
Violence halts Tyrone club game
16 Apr 07 |  Gaelic Games
Tyrone refs may withdraw services
08 Dec 06 |  Gaelic Games
Tyrone will probe replay mayhem
18 Sep 06 |  Gaelic Games

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