Tipperary shortage highlights difficulties in refereeing recruitment

Refereeing recruitment in Munster GAA has hit critically low levels, with Tipperary the latest to experience shortage problems.

Following on from the Limerick County Board’s plea yesterday to clubs to encourage members to take up officiating, a young referees’ course in Tipperary scheduled for this week was postponed due to a poor uptake.

The Irish Examiner understands only five people had signed up for it compared to 39 who enrolled a couple of years ago.

The development comes as GAA officials across the county have expressed concern about refereeing numbers, with some officials turning to soccer games where match fees are reportedly better. Earlier this week, Leinster secretary Michael Delaney highlighted a shortage of hurling referees in the province.

“Looking at our own fixtures schedule during provincial club championship time, and again during the accident tournament [pre-season] competitions, it is alarming to see how difficult it is to come up with sufficient match officials, particularly in hurling, to cover our programme of games. This should make us appreciate the task, therefore, faced by county committees every week in covering their programme of games.”

Meanwhile, Leinster chairman Martin Skelly expressed concern about the prospect of a new age limit on umpires.

As the Irish Examiner reported last month, the GAA are considering preventing umpires aged 55-plus from officiating at inter-county games as well as introducing an eye test. In his address to Leinster convention last night, Skelly said: “Officiating remains at a high level in the province, and although some aspects are under review, I would question the practicability of some proposals, including the age limit for umpires.”

Skelly also complimented the Football Review Committee’s proposals but feels the over-use of the handpass should have been addressed. “I feel there was a missed opportunity to table a proposal to curtail the handpass. It is a malaise that has crept in to the game, to see the ball being handpassed every which way about the field, losing more yards than are gained. The name of the game is football after all.”

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