Monday 11 December 2017

McGraith earns his official ticket

Irish refs have been largely overlooked, says Errol Sweeney

Errol Sweeney

Giovanni Trapattoni will announce his Euro 2012 squad tomorrow but we already know one Irishman who will be at the finals.



Damien McGraith from Mayo will act as a reserve assistant referee in this summer's tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

The match officials (referees, assistant referees, and additional assistant referees, the guys who waste their time standing next to the goalkeeper) have been put through their paces at a special training camp in Turkey and are due another session at the end of the month in Poland.

Once again Ireland has been largely overlooked, with McGraith our sole representative. He is, however, no stranger to international competition.

The schoolteacher is regarded as one of the country's top officials and was part of the Irish team with Alan Kelly as referee for the Euro 2012 qualifier between Latvia and Israel.

He has also had runs in the Champions League and Europa League and was involved at last year's under 21 European Championships in Denmark and officiated at the final which was won by Spain.

A product of the FAI's School of Excellence, he participated at the 2006 League Cup final, the 2007 and 2010 FAI Cup finals and 2011 Setanta Sports Cup final.

McGraith follows in the footsteps of Cork's Eddie Foley who was the first official from Ireland to make the referees' panel for the World Cup in 1998.

Meanwhile, the officials picked for this year's tournament are being put through their paces by UEFA's head of elite referees Pierluigi Collina -- him of the staring, bulging eyes -- and there is no more experienced or qualified former referee to conduct this course.

The course includes fitness work, as well as specific instructions from the UEFA Referees Committee on areas such as holding in the penalty area, offside, handball, simulation (diving), free-kick management, injury protocol and dissent and mobbing.

Each of the 31 games in Poland and Ukraine will be handled by a full team of seven match officials. This includes a referee, two assistant referees, and a fourth official. Then there are the two additional assistant referees (the guys at the goals) and a reserve assistant referee -- seven officials handling one game, and they still get it wrong.

The referees for the finals are Cuneyt Cahir (Turkey), Jonas Eriksson (Sweden), Viktor Kassai (Hungary), Bjorn Kuipers (Holland), Stephane Lannoy (France), Pedro Proenca (Portugal), Nicola Rizzoli (Italy), Damir Skomina (Slovenia), Wolfgang Stark (Germany), Craig Thompson (Scotland), Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain), and Howard Webb (England).

Errol Sweeney is a former League of Ireland and South African PL

referee

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