New selection criteria for prospective umpires

Mandatory eye examinations and fitness tests are on the way for all inter-county umpires.

Inter-county referees were informed at a recent meeting in Croke Park that their umpires will be required to fulfil certain criteria if they are to continue assisting them at games.

A mandatory eye test could be on the cards for this year while there is the possibility of introducing an age limit of 55 from next season.

A fitness test, which would consist of every umpire completing a distance of 3 kilometres in 30 minutes, had also been mooted but it is unlikely to be rolled out.

National match officials manager Pat Doherty confirmed the compulsory eye test is in the pipeline.

“We are certainly looking at that without a shadow of a doubt. Something like that may happen this year but that’s not certain. The eye thing, so to speak, is a no-brainer.”

Doherty wouldn’t confirm or deny the introduction of an age limit similar to the one of 50 on all inter-county referees introduced two years ago.

“There are discussions around moving forward with umpires and they are only discussion,” he said.

However, he was cool on the idea of the 3km time limited fitness test coming into operation.

“I don’t think that one would be ‘a runner’ because it’s not relevant but yes there are discussions around agility. We’re nothing even close to a finalisation situation.”

Over the last two years, umpires have been subjected to a pre-Championship test where they have been asked questions on protocol and rules in an updated training course.

However, there is concern already being expressed at grassroots level about the drop in the number of referees coming through the ranks with one major county believed to have had no pick-up in an advertised training course.

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