Dessie McDonnell is a member of the St Killian’s club in Whitecross. Married to Ciara, they have two daughters, Sorcha and Sinead, both of whom play football for Shane O’Neill’s Ladies and for Armagh Under 14 and Under 16 girls respectively. Dessie played club football for Whitecross at all levels and was a member of the 1996 panel that won the Armagh Junior Football Championship, after which he retired from playing. Following some persuasion from fellow club man and former club referee Seán Reavey, Dessie decided to help out and took up the whistle to represent his club as referee at underage and at senior level.
Dessie has refereed numerous county finals, including many underage and senior football finals, with the highlight coming in 2005, when he took charge of the Armagh Senior Football Championship final between Crossmaglen Rangers and Dromintee. Dessie was also rewarded with a place on the Ulster panel of referees and officiated as fourth official, linesman and as referee in a number of McKenna Cup games. Over the past eight years, Dessie has been a member of the Armagh Referees’ Committee and he has worked tirelessly across the county to recruit and train new referees.
When not refereeing games, Dessie can often be seen in the Athletic Grounds and in county grounds across the province, as he also volunteers as steward at Ulster championship games and also in GAA headquarters at PáircanChrócaigh. He also officiates as an umpire for Armagh referee Padraig Hughes, who is a member of the national referees’ panel. Indeed, such is Dessie’s commitment to his role that he is unfortunately unable to be at the Athletic Grounds today, as he joins Padraig and his team who are currently officiating at the Connacht Senior Football semi-final in Galway.
Amongst Dessie’s greatest memories as an Armagh supporter were his first All-Ireland final in 1977 when Armagh lost out to Dublin and 22 September 2002 when Sam Maguire finally came back to the Orchard county. Dessie wishes Kieran and the Armagh team all the best for today and is hopeful that the Armagh faithful will have a long summer to look forward to.
Armagh GAA is grateful to our hundreds of dedicated volunteers, including referees, stewards, those who organise our fixtures, gate men and women, those who promote our language and culture,those involved in Linwoods Armagh TV, programme and ticket sellers. Gabhann muid buíochas leis na daoine uilig a chaitheann na huaireanta fada ag obair go deonach ar son ArdMhacha. Go raibh míle maith agaibh.