Red Hand to lead way in referee recruitment drive

TYRONE county board chairman Ciaran McLaughlin has hit out at the treatment meted to referee Martin Sludden at the end of last July’s controversial Leinster senior football final.

The Red Hand native was attacked by a group of Louth supporters after allowing Joe Sheridan’s infamous match-winning goal to stand at the end of the Croke Park clash.

McLaughlin referenced the controversy while outlining his plans to launch a recruitment drive for young whistlers to officiate club games within the county over the coming seasons.

“In mentioning referee’s I condemn the scenes at the end of the Leinster Final. Whilst acknowledging the anguish the County of Louth faced at the final whistle, those supporters who attacked Martin Sludden have no place in the association.

“Similarly, I will also be asking our Referees Committee to look into a similar Development Squad of referees in the 20-25 age bracket with the aim of producing a batch of young referees wishing to progress and assisting them in that aim.”

McLaughlin has also Croke Park officials have to embrace ladies football and camogie in a new fully integrated association after revealing that the Red Hand county are set to devise an innovative fixtures plan, covering football, hurling and camogie for the 2011 season. McLaughlin said the GAA should take a lead from Tyrone’s spirit of integration and adopt an all-inclusive approach.

“The GAA is a family and the powerbrokers in Croke Park, responsible for the GAA, Cumann Peil nBán and the Camogie Association must listen to us in Tyrone, take our lead and integrate,” he said.

“In 2011 we in Tyrone will, for the first time, attempt a county fixtures plan for football, hurling, camogie. The CCC will ensure the fixtures plan will be made early and with everyone’s buy-in, will be adhered to. This will be helped by our newly appointed Fixtures planners, Patsy Hetherington and Aidy O’Kane.

“Their job is to identify, on behalf of all clubs, issues that arose in 2010 and to help address them in the fixtures plan for the incoming season. An integrated plan will aim to avoid fixture clashes and other situations which arose in 2010.”

McLaughlin intends to review all competitions and to involve the clubs in making decisions on whether more suitable formats can be identified. He also urged clubs to place an increased emphasis on coaching at youth level.

“For this piece of work I will be implementing a small workgroup led by our Fixtures Planners to report back by Autumn of 2011. I believe the club with active youth/coaching officers will be the club who will reap the most reward.

“To try to help every club to progress further in these areas I will be asking the incoming Youth Committee to produce a Youth Development Plan for the county, which in turn clubs will feed into.

“Its aim will be to pinpoint the issues clubs face in retaining young people and what more we can do to ensure our youth are catered for. Following this, our Coaching Committee will be asked to address the barriers facing our coaches as they address issues identified from the YDP.

“Most coaches get involved as they believe they can make a difference. What we will aim to do is assist them to achieve this goal – in Tyrone that will involve a Development Squad of coaches which will be led by our Games Promotion Officer and County Senior Trainer Fergal McCann.”

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