Referees will need to take charge of in-house games to sharpen up for the resumption of inter-county GAA, according to leading hurling match official Paud O’Dwyer.
The Carlow man says rustiness and a lack of match fitness is a major concern for referees as much as players during the coronavirus lockdown.
National referees manager Donie Smith has been in regular contact with inter-county referees but his hands are tied to a certain extent.
Although some managers take charge of A versus B games themselves or commission club referees to do so, O’Dwyer feels he and fellow match officials will need to gain access to them in their own county set-ups so as to finetune themselves for the time when the season resumes.
“It’s hard at the moment in that all we can do is the physical preparation,” he said. “We have our programmes set out to us from HQ. Donal Smith has also sent out clips to us just to keep the minds fresh and tips of what to look out for. He’s trying to keep us on top of things that way and he’s been in touch with us as well just to make sure we’re all okay and all our families are okay.
“It’s the same as everywhere, it’s just hard. The problem is that if and when it gets back going they will want to start it back fairly rapid. While it won’t be ideal for any of the teams involved, at least they will have A v B games in training to get their eye back in. That’s where our problem is going to be because we will have to try and get into our own county teams and see if we can referee their sessions to get our own eye back in.
“When the first games get going, you want to be right for them but it’s going to be very hard. You have to be right for them; it’s not just enough to want to be right.”
And O’Dwyer feels the Championship being played on a knock-out basis, as has been widely suggested, will put more of an onus on the referees to get calls right. “The stakes get higher straight away. There’s a strong possibility that they could be knock-out at this stage. It depends on how long this runs for.”
The Palatine clubman, the man in the middle for last year’s Munster SHC final and the stand-by referee/linesman in the All-Ireland final, is currently going back on his previous Championship appointments to pick up on areas to improve.
“All the Championship lads, they have the games they did last year recorded and it’s an opportunity to run back over them and review the mistakes made and the decisions that were correct.
“It’s just a matter of keeping the fitness up, the same as the players, but it’s easy to keep fit when you’re doing it in groups and training towards something. But when you don’t know what and when it’s difficult.”