Four decades of referee experience will come to the fore on the green swathe of TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar, when Rosemount native, Pat Fox, takes charge of the Westmeath Senior Football Championship final to be contested by Tyrrellspass and St Lomans on Sunday afternoon.
The eighth occasion (including two replays ) on which he has been chosen to referee the showpiece fixture by the Westmeath GAA county board, Pat was at the helm in 2000 when he officiated his first senior football county final and now, twenty years on, his proficiency with the whistle will be witnessed upon throw in on Sunday.
With a wealth of referee experience honed to date, Pat is understandably in a positive frame of mind as he looks forward to the occasion on Sunday.
“Obviously, I was delighted to received the phone call in recent times notifying me of my appointment for Sunday’s final fixture. My last county final of which I took charge was in 2014 when Garrycastle defeated Mullingar Shamrocks and it is an honour to officiate the occasion once again,” Pat emphasised.
Having commenced his refereeing journey in 1993, Pat, a former custodian with the Rosemount and Westmeath senior football teams, was appointed to the national referee’s panel in 1997 and boasts vast experience intercounty experience having officiated at numerous minor, under 21 and senior fixtures, being ‘the man in the middle’ for the 2010 Munster senior football final.
“Reflecting upon my refereeing journey to date, it has been littered with many moments to remember, one in particular being the first person to win an All Ireland Colleges senior championship and then, forty years on, officiate the fixture, personally speaking, a very proud day,” Pat enthused.
Having retired from intercounty referee duties in 2014, Pat continued to officiate at club level and maintains optimum levels of fitness courtesy of his running, swimming and cycling endeavours.
“The need to maintain and enhance fitness levels in keeping with the pace of the modern game is vast and I would afford due dedication to cardio work with participation in triathlons a regular occurrence,” Pat asserted.
His proficiency with the whistle has been rewarded with officiating duties at a number of international GAA occasions, most notably the European finals in Rennes, Madrid and Barcelona, the Middle Eastern finals in Doha, Qatar and the North American finals in Boston.
“I recall participating in the referees course in 1993 and have gained so much experience in my match officiating capacity since that time.
“It has been a rewarding journey and to officiate on the international stage for the GAA was most memorable,” Pat continued.
On the national stage, Pat fulfils the role of referee assessor with Croke Park, the Leinster Council and Westmeath.
Pat duly recognises the support afforded to him from his fledgling days as a referee and come Sunday a quartet of umpires who have assisted the Rosemount native with his officiating duties will grace the TEG Cusack Park sod and work as a unit to ensure the final is played without incident.
“The support which I have received from my team of umpires through the years has been immense and on this occasion, Tony Mullen, Moss Fox, Damien Kelly and Seamus McCormack will assist me from throw in to final whistle.
“I also wish to afford my due gratitude to my wife, Assumpta, and my family who have been continuously supportive of my officiating endeavours through the years. Their support has allowed me to continue in a role which I thoroughly enjoy and for that I am most grateful,” Pat concluded.