A meeting of the County Board took place on Tuesday, February 25.
County Competitions Control Committee (CCC) secretary Tom Maher sounded the alarm at a meeting of the Tipperary County Board in the Sarsfields Centre, Thurles on Tuesday, February 25 that drastic is required in the Premier County to address the dwindling number of referees.
“I am really worried about the referees in the county - not about the quality of the referees, but about the quantity of referees,” Mr Maher told delegates.
Following a recent recruitment drive eight candidates enrolled in a basic club referee training course, but Tom Maher explained that “referees are disappearing reasonably quickly”.
“We are losing more referees than we are gaining,” Mr Maher explained.
“The time has come when we need to do something about it,” the Moyne-Templetuohy man added before revealing that “a lot of clubs have no referees”.
Mr Maher also revealed that a number of county boards in the country impose penalties on clubs who do not add members to the pool of referees.
“I just believe that we need to do something to get in referees and also to do something to make sure that our referees do not get abused when we do get them in. This is as important as getting our county and clubs teams out on the field. Something has to be done,” Tom Maher said.
In response County Board chairman John Devane indicated that imposing penalties on clubs was a potential solution to the issue, but that the County Board were also “looking at different ways” to recruit referees.
John Ryan, the chairperson the Tipperary Referees Administration Committee, insisted that “every club should have a referee”.
“I just don't know what the answer is,” John Ryan added before County Board chairman John Devane (Boherlahan-Dualla) asked former inter-county referee and club colleague Johnny Ryan to contribute to the discussion.
“Every club should have a ref,” Johnny Ryan said.
“I am not into penalising or penalties, but if we exhaust all other avenues it is something that we will have to look at,” the Boherlahan-Dualla man added.
“When we identify people it is up to us to support them and to nurture them. Developing the game is not just about developing the people who are playing the games, it is also about developing the people who referee our games,” Mr Ryan said.
Further to the discussion the County Board vice-chairman and chairman of the CCC Joe Kennedy warned that clubs will be fined if team mentors are reported for abusing referees. It is widely accepted as fact that a major obstacle to attracting potential candidates into refereeing is the level of abuse directed at match officials during club games.
“We will be continuing our policy that if a mentor abuses a referee that club will be getting fined,” Joe Kennedy said.
Speaking on behalf of the gate checkers Liz Flanagan (Holycross-Ballycahill) described the numbers involved as “very low” and that gate checkers were regularly subjected to abuse at games.
“We are in a tough spot and we do need help,” Liz Flanagan said.
GLÓR NA NGAEL
Liam de Lasa addressed delegates at the February meeting of the County Board. Mr de Lasa is the Irish language officer with Glór na nGael, a government funded body which endeavours to promote the use of Irish at a practical level in GAA clubs. Liam de Lasa explained that he intended to get in contact with every club in Tipperary.
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