McEnaney seeks ‘two-referee’ trial in National League hurling campaign

Pat McEnaney would like to see the use of two referees in hurling experimented with in the National League.

McEnaney seeks ‘two-referee’ trial in National League hurling campaign

The national referees committee chairman has indicated his support for the idea in the past and would like to see it put into practice to see whether it could improve officiating in the game.

McEnaney spoke to the Irish Examiner earlier this week about how the standard of inter-county football refereeing was better than hurling at the same level.

Attending the launch of a national referee recruitment drive yesterday, he said about two referees in hurling: “It could happen. I’d like it tried.

“It’s definitely one thing that I’d like to have a look at, maybe for some league campaign. Let’s have a look at two referees. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But let’s try it.”

However, McEnaney admits the numbers of young hurling referees coming through at inter-county level are worryingly low.

“I think at the top level in hurling we have four or five really experienced referees, but have we got replacements for them is the question? At the moment there is a bit of a gap there.”

GAA president Liam O’Neill supports the idea of former inter-county players taking up the whistle, and McEnaney revealed that one has expressed interest in the idea.

McEnaney has not up to this point detected reluctance from them. “We haven’t gone hunting yet,” he insisted.

National match officials manager Pat Doherty indicated the committee would have liked to say more in defence of Barry Kelly following Brian Cody’s “criminal” remarks about his late decision in the drawn All-Ireland final.

“We would have been criticised for not supporting Barry Kelly. We have a difficulty in that the structure of our rules doesn’t allow statements to be made about ongoing disciplinary issues. We couldn’t come out in the middle of all of that and say ‘Barry Kelly is a great fella’, so to speak. We had to be very, very careful.”

Kelly’s colleagues James Owens and Alan Kelly both regarded Cody’s criticism of the Westmeath referee as unwarranted.

Owens said: “The way we would look at it, you could make three calls on that decision. He was right there beside it, he made the call. I think the comments were probably very harsh but we will get on with our end of things.”

Kelly stated: “It is a split second decision and you have to get it right and if you are a corner-forward that is going to get three things wrong in the game and one thing right, you would take it.

“You would have to feel for Barry, a lot of the criticism is not warranted.”

nThe “Think you can do better?” campaign will see inter-county referees act as recruitment ambassadors in their own counties. The aim of the campaign is to increase the number of referees officiating at club games throughout the country and consequently, pushing on to provincial and national level over the next few years.

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