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Top ref Behan says officials must be fit

YOU can't beat being up with the bounce of the ball. That's the verdict of one of Dublin's top referees, Peadar Behan.

"You have to be fit to get up and down the park. Having a good team around you is also a big help," he said.

One of his trusty crew is umpire, Mark McCabe. "I call him the Minister for Refereeing. He has such a super knowledge of the rules. Paddy Power is another person I'd seek advice from."

It was Paddy that got him blowing the whistle. Peadar had played senior hurling and football for Trinity Gaels.

He has seen how the pace of the game has increased. "I remember back to the replay of the Intermediate Hurling Championship final when St Vincent's beat us. I was so stiff and sore after that," said Peadar.

"I said to myself then it's time to give it up. The younger fellas are so fast and powerful. They are all in the gym now doing all types of training."

Peadar has only been refereeing for a few years. Last October he took charge of the Dublin senior hurling final. "I enjoyed it. I'd like to do more. I'm sorry I didn't get into refereeing earlier," he said.

Would he encourage more ex-players to consider the whistle? "Definitely. Refereeing keeps you fit and involved. It gives you a good insight into what's going on.

"You get to see close up all the talented players that are out there.

"I like to let the game flow as much as possible. That's what the spectators want to see. The players have trained so hard and you don't want to be getting in their way by blowing at every turn. It's all about the players.

"I am learning all the time. I learned so much from my assessments and the refresher courses, little things you did wrong or things you could do better.

"In life, the day you stop learning is the day you may give up."