IT has been a long time coming but it's nearly here at last.
Inter-county umpires will have to prove that their qualifications for the job extend beyond being friendly with referees.
The notion that an umpire could find himself adjudicating on a crucial decision in an All-Ireland final without ever having his knowledge of the rules formally tested was always unsustainable -- even more so in modern times, when every detail can be subsequently analysed in such forensic detail.
Referees have tended to support the 'friends first' approach to umpiring on the basis that they know their colleagues extremely well.
And besides, aren't they the lads who work with the referee in the less glamorous club games on cold winter Sundays?
Absolutely, but not all club players get to play in the big inter-county games, so why should an umpire be any different?
Raising umpiring standards will be a major plus for Gaelic games and, having done that, the GAA should then give them more power.