Top hurling ref Kelly opts out
Top hurling referee Barry Kelly is to stand down for the rest of the season, Writes MARTIN BREHENY.
In a surprise move, the Westmeath man, who refereed the 2006 and '08 All-Ireland senior hurling finals, has cited family reasons for his decision to opt out.
He would have been a leading contender for a third appearance in this year's final and already took charge of the Cork versus Tipperary Munster quarter-final last month and was due to be stand-by referee at tomorrow's Cork versus Limerick game.
However, he informed Croke Park this week that he would not be available for the rest of the year and yesterday outlined the reasons for his decision.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, he said that his wife, Catherine, had given birth to twins, Theo and Manus, in May and that time constraints made him re-evaluate his position.
"There's a lot involved in refereeing at inter-county level. It's very time-consuming on a number of fronts, what with training, meetings and the actual games themselves. I enjoy it immensely but family has to come first. It's not fair to be away from home so much with the twins so young," he said.
However, he plans to return next year. "I must be the only man who's looking forward to the 2011 Walsh Cup already," he said.
At the age of 40, Kelly is eligible to remain as an inter-county referee for the next 10 years. He will keep in touch with refereeing by officiating at club level in Westmeath for the rest of the year.
Kelly was one of the referees on the 10-strong elite panel chosen for this year's championship, so his departure leaves a vacancy. It now remains to be seen whether Dickie Murphy is restored to the group.
It was a major surprise when the Wexford man was omitted from the elite panel but he has remained involved as a linesman and stand-by referee so he's well-placed to return to the scene if invited.