Wednesday 17 January 2018

Refereeing numbers set to increase for championship

Referee Paddy Neilan under fire from Jim Gavin, Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Referee Paddy Neilan under fire from Jim Gavin, Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The panels of referees for the 2017 football and hurling championships look set to be increased.

Fitness testing is to take place tonight with 20 football and 14 hurling referees called in.

Last year the football panel was 18 while the hurling panel operated with just 12. During Pat McEnaney's chairmanship of the National Referees Committee (NRC), the panels were as low as 14 and 10 respectively.

A big emphasis has been placed on fitness in recent years with a level of 17.4 for a bleep test now deemed championship standard. Referees were monitored by GPS last year with David Gough clocking up almost 11 kilometres during the course of what was a thrilling All-Ireland semi-final between Kerry and Dublin in Croke Park.

Meanwhile, the NRC will not be responding to Jim Gavin's criticisms over appointing an 'inexperienced' official to last month's Division 1 NFL final between Dublin and Kerry.

While praising Paddy Neilan as a "very good" referee, Gavin claimed the Roscommon official's inexperience resulted in him not awarding a penalty in the second half at the Hill 16 end goal.

Gavin said he didn't think it was fair that referees at such an inexperienced level should be thrust into such high-pressure games, citing Tyrone's Sean Hurson's appointment for the regular Kerry-Dublin league match in Tralee as another example.

But national referees co-ordinator Pat Doherty said he would not be responding to the Dublin manager.

Gavin has raised the issue of adverse free counts before. Prior to the 2015 All-Ireland semi-final against Mayo, he said lower free counts than their opponents was something Dublin had become accustomed to. Dublin had a 21-4 free count against them for their All-Ireland quarter-final against Fermanagh despite dominating possession for so long.

In 2013, he was highly critical of referee Joe McQuillan immediately after the All-Ireland final against Mayo when he said that the award of just 12 frees to Dublin in that game was "beyond" him.

The NRC no longer have a formal meeting with inter-county managers like they did in the past but the lines of communication are always open, Doherty insisted, to discuss related matters.

Irish Independent

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