By Paddy McIlwaine
We at the Saffron Gael were deeply saddened to hear of the death of one of Antrim’s best known referees, Paul Hughes on St. Patrick’s Day. Paul ‘Morph’ died in hospital surrounded by his family and will be sadly missed by all who knew him. A long-time member of the O’Donnell’s club where he served as a player along with his brothers Pat and Sean, committee member and for more than a decade as a referee. Paul Hughes was one of Antrim’s busiest referees and I would run into him at games all over the county in my role as photographer-journalist with the Saffron Gael. Over the years I would like to think we became good friends.
Antrim referee’s administrator Brendan Toland described Paul as ‘an administrators dream’ when I spoke to him earlier today. ‘When referees cried off at short notice Paul was the first person I would contact and if he was available he would gladly step into the breach’ the Lamh Dhearg official told me.
Paul refereed with a calm laid back attitude but always kept a firm grip on proceedings and wasn’t scared to take appropriate action if the situation required it. He laughed one time as he told me ‘I once sent off the Mayor of Belfast’ referring to Lamh Dhearg’s John Finnucane.
Amongst the many games he refereed or officiated at in the capacity of linesman or umpire was the 2016 Junior Football championship final between Glenravel and St. Comgall’s. His passing will be a big loss to Antrim refereeing but an even greater loss to his family and all those who knew him.
To his children Alex and Ryan, father Paul, brothers Pat, Pearse, Sean and Martin we at the Saffron Gael offer our sincere sympathy.
May he rest in peace
Our Lady of the Gael
Pray for him