FORTY-FIVE YEARS after he first took up refereeing Malachy Doyle is still as keen as ever and relishes every game he steps up to officiate in. It’s a remarkable innings of service and it’s been done to an impeccably high level of consistency over so many, many seasons.
By EAMON SCOTT
Doyle first donned the referee’s tunic in 1974 and over the course of the next five decades he has earned a reputation of excellence allied to honesty and integrity and he goes about his business – on and off the field of play – with a broad grin on his face.
Doyle along with the likes of Brendan Emerson and Gay Murphy have become the senior statesmen in the Amateur Football League refereeing fraternity and while significant mileage has clocked up in the legs, he consistently brings that wealth of experience to bear when he steps across the whitewash.
“I still really enjoy the game and I love nothing better that going out to officiate in the AFL or an LFA Cup tie,” said Doyle during the interval of Sunday’s Leinster FA Over 35 clash between Dublin Airport and Mullingar Athletic.
It was never a fractious affair but the odd mistimed tackle or jersey tug saw Malachy step in to sort out the transgressor and a flash of yellow or a quiet word in the ear was sufficient to let all know who was in control.
“I’ve done nearly every final available to me including an FAI Junior Cup final although I did miss out on the Leinster Junior Cup, but, at the time, Vianney Boys were a dominant force and I had to settle for the Leinster Junior Shield final instead.”
His continued excellence as a match official was recognised at Saturday night’s AFL Referees night when he was named as ‘fourth official’ for the upcoming Amateur Cup Final.
That’s another prestigious cup final that he has on his impressive CV finals list while he also ran the line at Paddy Mulligan’s Testimonial when the opposition were recently crowned European Champions Nottingham Forest who had the legendary Brian Clough at the helm.
Malachy Doyle’s longevity has seen him as a central figure during the Amateur Football League’s golden age and he still is key figure and a highly respected whistler within the Over 35s game and he’s keen to maintain his involvement.
“It’s very enjoyable and I love the involvement and the banter with the players and it’s great to get out and run around so I’m more than happy to continue on refereeing,” states Malachy.
These days many referees my come across as being a little ‘sterile’ in their engagement but not so Malachy Doyle. People forget that it really is only a game and his ability to bring the human touch onto the field of play is perhaps why the veteran Knight of the Whistle remains such a popular figure – and long may that continue.
With forty five years of loyal service to the game of association football clocked up, he must be well inside territory that would see him recognised by the FAI with a ‘Services to Football award. Either the AFL should nominate him or the Dublin Branch of the ISRS might appreciate the merit in such a nomination.
One way or another, he’s always been top of his game and that’s a huge tribute to his excellence over such a long period of time.
A genuine Golden Oldie!