Collins among refs in dry dock
FOUR members of the inter-county football refereeing panel have been out of action since the first Sunday in July and may not be used again this season.
Newcomers Conor Lane and Padraig O'Sullivan have not taken charge of matches since the first round of qualifiers on June 30, while Syl Doyle has also not refereed a game since that day, when he took charge of the clash between Laois and Carlow.
Cork's Michael Collins has also been in dry dock -- for what is essentially the busiest stretch of the football season -- since the Kildare-Meath Leinster semi-final on July 1, a decision that may be linked to his performance on that day.
After that match, Kildare midfielder Daryl Flynn had one of his two yellow cards rescinded on appeal, while in the build-up to Peadar Byrne's Meath goal there were probably two calls for frees that went against the Lilywhites.
Under the chairmanship of Pat McEnaney, referees have been left in no doubt that those who are considered to be 'performing' will continue to be called.
The choice of officials for this weekend's games reflects a growing tendency to give the most experienced referees the most exposure at the business end of the season.
Joe McQuillan refereed last weekend's Ulster football final, and will be on duty again for Saturday's Meath-Laois fourth-round qualifier.
David Coldrick returns to action for a third week running in Roscommon for Kildare and Sligo -- having taken charge of the Kerry-Tyrone game in Killarney last weekend, and the second-round Laois-Monaghan qualifier the weekend before that.
Maurice Deegan has been used more sparingly this summer, but can expect to be busy over the coming weeks as he prepares to take charge of Kerry and Clare in Limerick.
Coldrick will be the most utilised referee after this weekend, with five outings once he completes his duties at Dr Hyde Park.
He was on the receiving end of stern criticism from Tyrone's Mickey Harte after last weekend, but refereeing sources are thought to have been satisfied with his performance despite the anomaly between the red card shown to Tyrone's Brian McGuigan and the yellow that Kerry's Patrick Curtin escaped with, for what looked like a more serious offence later in the game.
Referee appearances so far:
5 -- David Coldrick (Meath)*
4 -- Joe McQuillan (Cavan)*, Marty Duffy (Sligo), Maurice Deegan (Laois)*, Rory Hickey (Clare), Barry Cassidy (Derry), Michael Duffy (Sligo), Eddie Kinsella (Laois), Derek Fahy (Longford)
3 -- Martin Higgins (Fermanagh), Conor Lane (Cork), Cormac Reilly (Meath)*, Padraig Hughes (Armagh)
2 -- Syl Doyle (Wexford), Padraig O'Sullivan (Kerry), Michael Collins (Cork)
* Includes this weekend's fourth-round qualifiers for which referees have been allocated