Referee Pat McDade has recently visited County Armagh and Down to officiate on behalf of the Sarsfields club and recently has been in charge of some high profile games including the South Armagh derby between Cullyhanna and Dromintee.
Pat from Maralin, but now resides in Waringstown, has been refereeing in Down for a number of years and he says he is enjoying his new role in Armagh.
“Sarsfields chairman Declan McAlinden approached me to referee for the club and he stressed the benefits of clubs putting forward referees so I told him I would balance my role as a referee in Down with my new duties in Armagh,” explained Pat.
So how have the clubs in the County taken to a new official? “Obviously when managers and players see a new referee they want to know your background. It’s like everything else, you have to take the rough with the smooth. Like a lot of referees there is very little you haven’t heard or seen, but in the vast majority of cases things work out in a positive fashion.”
Pat has been involved in a number of posts with his club, in 1987 he captained his senior team under the management of Down player Adrian McCaufield to their first County title.
He also managed the St. Michael’s team, has been club Chairman for a number of years and also was in charge of the ladies team.
Pat would also be known around Lurgan for his time with Mid Ulster League side Port Vale who he helped form along with a number of friends and his brother Martin.
Port Vale eventually evolved into the team now known as Derryhirk, but during the Vale’s years they rose from Division 5 to Division 2 winning all the League cups on the way and securing a still unbeaten record of 67 games undefeated.
Pat looks back with fondness on those days, “My brother Martin and I got things going and my dad (the late Jimmy) was an avid fan, it was great to have so many talented players such as Joe King, Gary Gowdy, Dermie Scullion, Anthony McMarrow, Eugene Creaney and Stanley Sheppard on the team. We had a great run and I made a lot of friends along the way.”
Pat says referring in Armagh has given him a new challenge. “It’s another challenge for me. Armagh football is very competitive and there are a lot of local rivalries. It is an honour for me to be asked to referee in Armagh and I am looking forward to the rest of the season.”