By Mark Jones
DUBLIN — Wexford’s football manager, J.J. Barrett, has resigned after his admission that he punched the referee following last Sunday’s controversial National League game against Cavan.
"I am sorry and ashamed," said Barrett, who could still face a two-year suspension from the GAA. "It was the most cowardly and reprehensible thing I have done in my life."
Supporters from both counties were stunned at the end of the Div. 2 match at Breffni Park when Barrett first remonstrated with referee Mick Curley and then struck him in the face.
Curley, one of the GAA’s most experienced referees and a Garda superintendent based in Clifden, Co. Galway, was clearly dazed but escaped any serious injury.
Earlier, Curley had awarded Cavan a hotly disputed last-minute penalty that was converted by Ronan Carolan to give his team a one-point victory. If Wexford had won, they would have been in line for promotion to Div. 1.
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"I’m afraid the pressure got to me," admitted Barrett, who was an All-Ireland winner with Kerry in 1962 and is currently a GAA reporter with the Evening Herald.
"I apologized to Mick Curley and told him what a fool I was. He took my apology well and his attitude made me feel even smaller than I already felt."
Curley declined to comment to the media, but his match report has already been received by the GAA and its content should seal Barrett’s fate when the Games Administration Committee meets next.
"I’m laying myself at the mercy of the GAC and I quite understand they have to make an example of people like me who do absolutely stupid things," Barrett said. "No matter how hard done by I felt last Sunday, there is no justification for striking a referee.
"In all of this, no one has been more insulted, offended and hurt than Mick Curley. I also feel very sorry for the Wexford footballers who have worked very hard and have played some very good football in the League."
The Cavan Garda station received no official complaint from Curley about the incident and GAA sources were suggesting that further action will be confined to the Association’s disciplinary structures.
Barrett could be banned from any involvement in the game for up to two years.