In the wake of another alleged assault on a Gaelic Athletic Association referee, Wexford chairperson Micheál Martin said that the recruitment of officials is the biggest challenge facing the association.

A referee in Wexford was allegedly assaulted during a Junior A (adult) game on Sunday, less than a month after ref Kevin Naughton was hospitalised following an alleged assault at a match in Roscommon.

Martin, who confirmed that the referee in the latest incident was not seriously injured, revealed that the numbers of available officials had dropped so dramatically in his county that games have ocassionally had to be cancelled.

"One of the disappointing aspects of having to talk about this today is that we've have had refereeing and the recruitment and retention of referees on the agenda of every county meeting this year," he told RTÉ's News at One.

"When Larry McCarthy became president I told him 'It is the number one issue for the association at the moment’.

"In Wexford, we have dropped from upwards of 70 referees a number of years ago to down to just over 50.

"That has implications in being able to run a games programme. A small number of games haven’t been able to go ahead… because of the lack of referees.

"From talking to other county chairmen, that is an issue across a number of counties, and across other codes as well."

Martin, a primary school principal, believes there has been a general erosion of respect for authority in Irish society, which is now manifesting itself around sporting events.

"We have had a number of serious incidents, potentially less serious than [Sunday’s], and they have been dealt with severely by with our disciplinary committee but the fact that you have to deal with them in the first instance is very disappointing and it’s one that we are constantly reminding clubs of.

"I think there has been an erosion in the respect for authority and decision-makers at all levels in society in the last 10 years. The GAA is a reflection of society.

"It has got to the stage where every decision is challenged and it manifests itself on social media as well.

"In the extreme cases then, things can get out of hand from a physical point of view."

Martin suggested that the various sporting governing bodies should work with the government to tackle the issue.

"I think we have reached crisis point," he said.

"We can’t pass the buck and say that government can solve this but I would like to see the policy makers across sport and within the relevant departments sit down together and see how we can address this.

"Both the deterrents and the education, it’s incumbent on all of us to ensure that we don’t have an ongoing verbal or physical threat to referees."