Over the last month or so, hurling has sent an entire nation weak at the knees as a series of epic matches along with an unmatched epic series gave the "game for the Gods" a remarkable status in the national consciousness. One man, however, doughtily refused to go quietly along with the hype, and instead stood up against Big Hurling to point out some problems festering at the heart of the sport.
That man was James McGrath, and the festering problems were that, he, er, doesn't get to referee the All-Ireland final.
McGrath had Marty Morrissey and RTE come to Westmeath to film an interview in which he announced his retirement from intercounty refereeing having been overlooked for the showpiece occasion, saying that it "is not a decision I take lightly, it is a decision that has been made for me". McGrath was critical of the "integrity" of the decision to hand the final to James Owens instead, who had refereed the Galway/Clare semi-final.
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.
The central refs appointment committee made the decision to appoint the team of officials on the day, and basically, I found, as a result of that, the integrity of not appointing me in some capacity for the final left me with no other option but to reflect on the last year or number of years.
McGrath was widely derided for such an unfathomable display of ego, but he has a supporter in his own county board. Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner, chairman Billy Foley said he wished to express solidarity with McGrath.
We would like to express our solidarity with James. We think James has been a wonderful servant to Westmeath GAA. In our opinion he's the best referee in Ireland.
He really refereed wonderfully all year and we're very disappointed that he didn't get the match. Even if he never got the match, he certainly should be involved in All-Ireland final day for all his efforts this year. We thought all the games he refereed, he refereed extremely well.
At the same time, it's nothing against James Owens. We wish him the very best of luck in the final. But we'd be very disappointed along with James that he didn't get the All-Ireland.
McGrath refereed the replays of the 2012 and 2013 All-Ireland hurling finals.