Sunday, April 03, 2022

Referee Jerome Henry in charge of last season’s Mayo SFC final between Knockmore and Belmullet. Picture: INPHO/Evan Logan

Delegates at the monthly meeting of Mayo County Board were painted a bleak picture of refereeing numbers in the county, with urgent action now required to address a looming crisis in the recruitment of officials.
Sean Mac Éil, Mayo GAA referees’ coordinator, outlined the severity of the situation which now faces the county in terms of officials.
The Knockmore clubman said that he appreciated that many clubs have a limited number of volunteer officers available to run their own affairs but urged clubs to appreciate the gravity of the problem facing the county and to encourage anyone within their membership with an interest in refereeing to put their names forward.
Mac Éil welcomed the fact that ten new referees have recently completed their initial refereeing course and will be available to referee underage matches this year but pointed out that those ten new referees came from just five of the county’s clubs, only one of which is a senior club.
“The big clubs should be able to supply two or three referees apiece,” said Mac Éil. “There will be more than 3,000 club matches played in the county this year and they all need referees. If we don’t keep recruiting at least ten to fifteen referees per year for the next five years, we will find ourselves in a serious crisis.”
Ronan Kirrane, Mayo GAA vice-secretary, echoed Mac Éil’s appeal to clubs to recruit referees from within their own membership. He said that Mayo GAA has lost as many as 20 experienced referees in the last two years to retirement and other causes and issued a stark warning that there will undoubtedly be games called off in 2022 because referees are unavailable.
“Our refs are burned out, they’re at saturation point,” said Kirrane, pointing out that it may soon become necessary to place a cap on the number of teams a club can field at a given age-grade simply because referees are unavailable to cater for more teams.
“Are we going to get to the stage where we’re telling clubs they can only have two teams, because we don’t have the manpower to officiate? That would be a sad indictment of a county like Mayo.”
Ardagh delegate Padraig Doherty told the meeting that he agreed with what Mac Éil and Kirrane had said but added that as an active referee himself, one of the issues he sees with the retention of officials is the lack of a defined pathway from refereeing underage matches up to taking charge of adult games.
“It can take years for a referee to progress from doing under-12 games to even getting up to minor level,” stated Doherty. “We need to sit down and put a proper training programme and progression plan in place.”
Doherty also said that he knew of cases in which referees’ reports had been sent to the CCC, often reporting instances of abuse of officials or other important matters, but not adequately followed up on.
Gerry Bourke of Breaffy GAA proposed that every club in the county be instructed by the Board to hold a special meeting of their executives to address the issue of referee recruitment. The motion was passed by the meeting.
Chairperson Seamus Tuohy said that Mayo GAA will hold another training course for new referees this year if the numbers are available and encouraged clubs to actively recruit new officials within their ranks.
“We all have an onus and a responsibility to address this issue,” said the chairperson.

Comments are closed.

Sports Journalist
Contact Newsdesk: +353 96 60900

More Connacht Sport

Similar Articles