Dear Colleagues,

One story dominated Society’s media activity since our last meeting and that was the sad and unprovoked assault on our colleague, Daniel Sweeney. The coverage brought refereeing and, by extension, the ISRS, to national prominence over a number of weeks, starting initially with the assault, the ISRS immediate response and then the President’s meetings with the FAI and the success secured with regard to greater sanctions. The latter two phases of the incident allowed the opportunity for the ISRS to come to the forefront in representing the voice of soccer referees in Ireland.

Coverage was extensive over the period and I would like to pay full tribute to our President who handled all media queries with a high degree of professionalism and confidence.

In particular, Paul showed great skill and ability while doing various TV reports, including RTE (in studio), TV3 and a host of national and local radio stations. Paul was also interviewed on overseas radio stations including England.

A number of statements were prepared by me and advice given in dealing with the national media for our President during what was a very hectic time.

A sample of the coverage is here:

Irish Examiner

Renewed calls for greater sanctions as fall out from referee attack intensifies


Irish Times

FAI chief John Delaney to meet referee group over attacks

Daniel Sweeney is unable to talk and can only drink through a straw due to injuries


Wicklow News

Referees President condemns vicious assault on one of his members in the midlands



New sanction system set to be introduced in wake of referee assault


Irish Mirror

Referee suffers broken jaw in shocking car park assault after amateur football match


RTE News

Sanctions system to be introduced after assault on referee

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, ISRS President Paul O’Brien said the support and positivity he received from two unnamed FAI officials was unbelievable.

He said that at present, anyone who assaults a referee gets a minimum one-year suspension.



Possible lifetime ban to be brought in for people who assault referees

NEW SANCTIONS ARE to be put in place for people who attack referees, following an assault at a football match last weekend.

Daniel Sweeney suffered a broken jaw and fractured eye socket when he was attacked after showing a red card during a match in Westmeath on Sunday.

He underwent a five-hour operation yesterday and will spend the next six to eight weeks recovering.

Officials from the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and the Irish Soccer Referees Society (ISRS) met at last night’s friendly international between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Paul O’Brien, president of the ISRS, told RTÉ Radio 1′s Today with Seán O’Rourke he wasn’t due to meet John Delaney until next week but that the FAI chief executive “felt so strongly” about what happened to Sweeney that they met at half time last night.


The Herald

Sanctions to be beefed up after attack left ref in surgery for 5 hours

Referee Daniel Sweeney underwent five gruelling hours of surgery in which several plates were inserted in his jaw following a savage attack at the end of a senior football match last weekend.

The married father-of-two was left with horrific injuries – including two fractures to his jaw, a fractured eye socket and numerous cuts to his nose – after thugs attacked him following the match between Horseleap United and Mullingar Town last Sunday in Horseleap, Co Offaly.

Mr Sweeney, originally from Co Donegal but living in Mullingar, will remain at St James’s Hospital over the weekend and will be recovering at home for up to eight weeks, according to Irish Soccer Referees’ Society (ISRS) president Paul O’Brien.


Speaking on RTE Radio 1’s Today With Sean O’Rourke yesterday, Mr O’Brien said the good news is the surgery went well and Mr Sweeney’s prognosis is “as good as can be expected”.

However, he said sanctions against players and club members who attack referees must be beefed up after the unprecedented assault.

Referee hospitalised following serious assault during midlands game

The incident has been condemned by representative groups for referees and players, with the Irish Soccer Referees Society saying in a statement: “We wish our friend and colleague from the Midland Branch a speedy recovery following a vicious assault that was perpetrated on him today at a game.

“He has our full support at this difficult time. Our Society President, Paul O’Brien has been in touch with the referee tonight as he awaits surgery for his injuries.”

New sanctions against perpetrators to be put in place following attack on referee

Referee Daniel Sweeney, who sustained broken jaw and a fractured eye socket when a row broke out toward the end of a match in the Midlands last week, has called for referee safety during matches.

He said he would like to see the day when referees can go onto a football pitch and feel safe.

President of the Irish Soccer Referees Society, Paul O’Brien met with senior FAiI officials last night in a bid to raise concerns about what happened and to call for stronger sanctions against people who assault referees either verbally or physically.

Mr O’Brien joined Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning having met with the senior FAI officials including Chief Executive John Delaney.

He sought after stronger sanctions against the perpetrators of physical assault on referees and how best to deal with abuse and disparaging comments made against referees on social media also.


Three footballers receive lengthy bans following attack on referee

The Combined Counties Football League has announced that three Mullingar Town players will face 40-year-bans from the sport in Ireland for assaulting a referee in Westmeath earlier this month.

Referee Daniel Sweeney had to undergo facial surgery after an attack following a recent match between Horseleap United and Mullingar Town.

Paul O’Brien, President of the Irish Soccer Referee Society met with FAI chief John Delaney to discuss the matter last week and on Friday the Combined Counties Football League suspended those involved from all football activity in the FAI’s jurisdiction for the next 40 years.


Irish Post

Irish referee Daniel Sweeney undergoes gruelling 5-hour surgery following vicious attack after soccer match

THE Irish referee who was savagely beaten during a senior football match last weekend has undergone a successful five-hour surgery and had plates inserted into his jaw.

Ref Daniel Sweeney was attacked by thugs shortly after referreing a Leinster Senior League clash between Horseleap United and Mullingar Town in Co. Westmeath on Sunday.

The father-of-two was left with a jaw broken in two places, a fractured eye socket and numerous lacerations to his nose in the wake of the assault.

He will remain at St James’s Hospital in Dublin over the weekend following his operation – which saw “four to five” plates inserted in his jaw – and will spend up to eight weeks recovering at home thereafter.

President of the Irish Soccer Referees Society, Paul O’Brien, has revealed that talks with the FAI for new sanctions over assaults on match officials are underway following the horrific attack.


Today FM

New Suspension System Coming In For Irish Soccer After Ref Attack

New rules are due to come in to play for Irish soccer from next year.

They’re coming into force after a referee was assaulted in Co. Offaly last weekend.

Daniel Sweeney was attacked following a match between Mullingar Town and Horseleap.

He suffered severe facial injuries and had to undergo a five hour operation yesterday.

Last night, the Irish Soccer Referees Society met with officials from the FAI to discuss ways to stop people verbally and physically abusing referees.

President Paul O’Brien says they are looking at introducing a tiered system of suspensions.

“If a referee is assaulted – it would be graded on the seriousness of the assault”.

“We’ve agreed to form a working group and hope to have the new rules implemented by the middle of January at the FAI EGM”.


Shannonside Radio

Soccer Referee Society President Calls For Change

Violence and abuse levelled at referees has become more common and has led to a drop in the number of people willing to fulfil the role.

It follows an attack on a referee in Offaly at the weekend. He was left with fractures to his jaw and eye socket, as well as other injuries.

The Irish Soccer Referee Society President says many now see referees as a “necessary evil” in a sports game and that many now see it as acceptable to abuse the ref.



Midlands Radio 3

Horseleap Match Referee Undergoing Surgery

A soccer referee has been undergoing surgery this afternoon after being beaten up following a match in Horseleap.

Daniel Sweeney suffered a suspected broken jaw, nose and other facial injuries following the assault.

He’d been refereeing an adult match between Horseleap and Mullingar Town yesterday.

President of the Irish Soccer Referees Society Paul O’Brien believes it occurred after a decision over a yellow card;


Highland Radio

Need for referee protection is highlighted after substantial bans

Football clubs will be responsible for making sure the lengthy bans imposed on three players involved in a referee assault, are enforced.

Three Mullingar Town players have been banned from the sport for 40 years, following a post-match incident in Offaly which left Donegal born referee Daniel Sweeney with serious facial injuries.

A spectator also involved – who already had a life-ban from playing – won’t be allowed coach, manage or be part of a club committee.

Paul O’Brien – President of the Irish Soccer Referees Society – says it’s up to clubs to enforce the bans………..


Yahoo Sports

Players suspected of brutally beating referee after amateur soccer game in Ireland

A referee at an amateur soccer match in Ireland was brutally attacked by three players after the game, sending him to the hospital with multiple facial injuries.

Just before the attack on Sunday, Daniel Sweeney was refereeing a match between Mullingar Town FC and Horseleap FC of Ireland’s Combined Counties League. According to the Irish Times, Sweeney was at his car, which was parked in the lot of a pub near the soccer pitch in Horseleap, when he was attacked.

Sweeney was taken to a local hospital to receive treatment for his injuries. Paul O’Brien, president of the Irish Soccer Referees Society, spoke to the BBC and said Sweeney “had his jaw broken on both sides, another break higher up and has a broken bone below the eye, plus stitches in his nose.”


Dublin Live

FAI bring in term limits and more protection for referees

President of Irish Soccer Referees’ Society Paul O’Brien said: “We would like to thank John Delaney and the FAI for, firstly, listening to us, then establishing the Working Group, then bringing it to the members to vote on, and for the members to pass it.

“These new measures are an appropriate response to ongoing issues and will act as a deterrent to any potential assaults and abuse towards referees”.


Our social media platforms

The assault and the publicity surrounding it brought new followers to both our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Our Twitter account now has 327 followers and continues to grow.

Our Facebook account now has 359 followers and similarly has continue to grow and expand in numbers.

Eugene Deering