What is it about Wicklow?
We have now reached the stage where officials will require round the clock the protection both in the lead up to and in the direct aftermath of their officiating at Wicklow club championship matches.
At the weekend the Irish Independent have reported that Hollywood referee Pat Dunne was attacked while standing as an umpire for a Junior Football Championship B semi-final between Newtownmountkennedy and his own club of Hollywood.
Colm Keys reported how Dunne was attacked after an 'on-field altercation became a free for all'. The referee issued no cards but video evidence of the event will now be assessed.
Last year we set off on a quest to find three reasons why a county might win the All-Ireland football title in 2014. For some counties, this task demanded a greater degree of creativity than it did with other counties. And in the case of Wicklow, it required quite incredible powers of imagination.
We eventually determined that Wicklow's capacity for intimidating referees was their ace in the hole.
We believe that their propensity for harassing referees dates back to the War of Independence, a time of unusual serenity in Wicklow.
Here is what we wrote:
Wicklow was the only county in the country to see no 'activity' in the War of Independence. None whatsoever. No ambushes, no reprisals, no assaults on army barracks with sods of turf. Nothing. Not a hair on a Black and Tan's head was harmed in Wicklow during the years 1919 to 1922. Now, you might think that that means that Wicklow is very peaceful county, slow to anger. Wrong.
For what psychologists increasingly believe is that all that bottled up rage, all that pent up anger has been unleashed, in furious torrents, on those poor sods charged with officiating at local faction fights/club matches. Yes, Wicklow is to GAA referees what Istanbul was to English football teams in the 90s. It is the gulag to which Pat McEneaney should banish referees who have done badly on recent assessors tests, and it is the place to which Eddie Keher no doubt wishes to send referees who've done well on recent assessors tests. Whether it be stories of locking refs in the boots of cars, or goading them into sending three opposition players off for next to nothing, Wicklow remains the gold standard in intimidating referees by which all other counties are judged.
This year's hurling and football finals were also the scene of unsavoury incidents. CCC Chairman Mick Hagan issued a statement saying that 'this cannot be tolerated in the county'.