Slane referee, David Gough, who takes charge of his second Ulster senior final when he officiates at the Monaghan and Tyrone clash next Saturday has told Meath Live that refereeing games without supporters in attendance has made it harder rather than easier for the games top whistlers.
He revealed, ‘ Everything is different, for a start we don’t travel in the same car to matches like we usually would, we are provided with driver and a mini bus, okay that helps in so far as I can do my stretching on the bus or walk up and down to loosen the legs and I don’t have to concentrate on driving, but it is still different from your normal match day routine.
‘Then when you approach the venue there are no fans about outside the ground nobody making their way to the ground and the whole atmosphere is just completely flat.
‘When you get into the stadium there is no buzz about the place and the whole thing resembles a challenge match.
‘When you put that all together it does cause an issue in motivating yourself and getting to championship pitch right from the throw in, with a full Clones, Fitzgerald Stadium, or wherever you are tuned in as soon as you are close to the place so Saturday the fact there will be 18,000 in Croke Park will be a help’.
There is another downside to no crowds that is perhaps a little bit more obvious.
Gough admits, ‘When the place is packed if the crowd are on your back all you hear is a wall of noise, with no fans there you can hear every bit of abuse you get from the sideline.’