Gavin and McQuillan in pole position to referee All-Irelands
BRIAN Gavin from Offaly and Cavan's Joe McQuillan are hot favourites to be appointed as referees for next month's All-Ireland senior hurling and football finals.
Neither has previously refereed on the big days, but are very experienced and have had a high profile this year.
However, neither has been appointed for the All-Ireland semi-finals, which, in the past, has been a significant pointer to appointments for the finals.
Barry Kelly (Westmeath) refereed the Kilkenny-Waterford hurling semi-final last Sunday, while Cathal McAllister (Cork) will take charge of Dublin v Tipperary.
In football, Dave Coldrick (Meath) has been chosen for Kerry v Mayo on Sunday week, with Maurice Deegan (Laois) officiating at Dublin v Donegal a week later.
With Kelly and McAllister getting the semi-final jobs, it leaves Gavin, who has refereed three championship games so far, as the leading contender for the hurling final, thus becoming the first Offaly man to get the top honour since Padraig Horan in 1996 when Limerick played Wexford.
McQuillan has refereed six football championship games so far this summer and looks set to become the first Cavan man to be appointed to the final since Fintan Tierney took charge of the Kerry-Offaly draw and replay in 1972.
McQuillan will probably be appointed even if Donegal reach the final, thus breaking with the tradition of choosing a referee from a neutral province for the football final.
The referees' appointments committee has largely ignored geographical considerations this year and with McQuillan regarded as one of the top football referees, he looks set for the big job, irrespective of the final pairings.