Referee Coldrick's Championship journey
By Cian O'Connell
David Coldrick has acted as a referee in 57 All Ireland Football Championship matches.
The Meath official took charge of three All Ireland Finals in 2007, 2010, and 2015 and is widely acknowledged as one of the top referees in the country.
Coldrick recently discussed his refereeing career and achievements with GAA.ie.
Q: It must have been a nice honour to get a Gold Award for acting as a referee in more than 50 Championship matches?
A: Yeah, it certainly was, I definitely can be called a veteran now anyway.
Q: Having been on the inter-county panel for several years do you notice much difference in the game? Do you think that it has changed?
A: Oh yeah, both the game and refereeing in general has changed over the years. I think I've been 14 years on the inter-county panel and a good chunk of those would have been on the National or Championship panel. The game itself has definitely got faster over the years, it takes a lot more to retain or even get to a level of fitness to retain it.
Another thing that certainly has happened over the last number of years in GAA games they have always had media attention, but I think it has grown.
As a result the scrutiny on referees has also grown and that has brought with it, you'd always have had the physical fitness aspect, but now the mental fitness is just as important if not even more important from a refereeing point of view now compared to what it was 10 years ago when I was starting off.
Q: Is that something you try to stay away from around a big match?
A: It is very hard to block out, but the way I try to do it is to stay away from papers or TV programmes around games that are coming up. Mentally it is hard not to get drawn into things.
We can all say we are mentally strong, but it helps if you just keep away from it as much as possible. Obviously it is very difficult, like the players we are amateurs, we go to work everyday. People in the build up to big games want to talk to you about the big games and so on, but you try to keep that to a minimum as part of your preparations for a game.
Q: Around this time of the year, is the draw of the big day in Croke Park or a Championship game anywhere around the country, is that a driving force to make sure you remain involved at this level?
A: Absolutely it does. I get huge enjoyment out of the game for a start, but in terms of what keeps me going, any referee starting off it is step by step up the ladder. When you get to the top of the ladder and when you get to the ultimate, which is to referee an All Ireland Final, the next thing is you want to referee multiple All Ireland Finals. You want to stay involved in those big games as long as you can, just like players.
What keeps me going at this time of the year, to keep training in advance of the following year is the want to stay involved at the top level. When you have got to the top it is an even bigger challenge to stay at the top. That is what keeps me going.
Q: The fact that you refereed for more than a decade at the highest level must be a source of satisfaction?
A: Yeah, absolutely. I haven't been keeping a record from day one, I was surprised that I had refereed 57 Championship games, but when I heard that, first of all there is deep satisfaction and pride to have refereed 57 Championship games. That in itself keeps you going as well, you are currently at 57, where can you actually get to?
It was a great night at the GAA Referees Banquet and it was nice to get that award as well.
Q: Are you fairly close to the other officials. You have regular seminars and fitness sessions, but do you have any close friends in particular?
A: Over the last few years as a group we meet up now more regularly than ever. During the Championship season we meet up once every two or two and a half weeks. Even now during the off season we have sessions like the one we had at Abbottstown pre-Christmas. There is a lot of collective meetings and meet-ups.
On one to one I would be very close to the likes of Cormac Reilly. I would talk refereeing matters with Cormac probably once every couple of days. We bounce things off each other and so on, more so in the Championship season.
Collectively as a group there is huge friendship amongst the group, within that group then there are guys you'd talk to quite regularly to keep up to speed on refereeing.