Limerick gardai launch probe after referee's car is vandalised during match

Donal O'Regan


Donal O'Regan


Limerick gardai launch probe after referee's car was vandalised during match

A photograph of the damaged aerial

LIKE ALL referees, Jonathan Hayes is used to having his decision making attacked but not his personal property.

The 30-year-old was the man with the whistle on Tuesday evening, August 29 in the Bog Garden, Rathkeale.

“I was refereeing a game between Ballysteen and Clan na Gael in a  West Minor A Football semi-final. Throw in was 6.45pm so myself and my umpires would have come out around 8.15pm,” said Jonathan, who is from Shanagolden.

After a long day in work before heading to Rathkeale for the game he was anxious to get home to Dooradoyle, where he lives. 

”I stopped for Diesel at the Top station in Croagh. I was filling the tank and whatever look I gave to the top of the roof I could see the aerial had been damaged. There was marks on the roof like a hammer was used.

“The aerial is wedged up from the roof. They used a hammer to try and jimmy it out and a screwdriver as well. There are two dents in the roof where the aerial is situated,” said Jonathan, who drives a Volkswagen Passat CC he brought in from England. It was parked directly outside the gate.

The shark fin aerial the thieves were trying to steal is worth around €150 but the damage caused is much more.

“I got an estimate of €820 to repair it and get it sprayed. If they got the aerial off properly it is worth €150. It gives you sat nav because there is built-in sat nav in the car, obviously the radio, traffic reports and all that kind of stuff. In order to get it fixed the inside interior of the roof has to be taken down to take the aerial off. The aerial has to be replaced completely. It is cracked inside in it. It was vandalism,” said Jonathan.

He stresses the incident had nothing to do with the match or either sets of supporters as there were no contentious incidents or a few red cards or anything like that.

“I’m not in refereeing for money. I’m in it to make progress and get up the ladder. I couldn’t care less about money, it is just progression for me. I had to give up playing football with St Clement’s after I snapped my cruciate twice,” said Jonathan, who reported the incident to the gardai.

“The guard I met couldn’t get over the vandalism. He said, ‘You are just going out to referee a match and someone tampers with your car...’ It is not nice, I’d hate to see it happen to anybody else,” said Jonathan.

Deputy Niall Collins said it was an “absolute disgrace”.

“He is out there doing his bit for the GAA after working all day and he comes out to find his car has been damaged… It is despicable behaviour. I know the gardai are investigating it and I am urging anybody who may have seen anything to contact their local garda station,” said Deputy Collins.