The Celtic Challenge inspired former inter-county referee Joe Kelly to put forward the idea of only two designated players and manager having speaking rights with referees.
Naomh Éanna man Kelly, who umpires for James Owens, has proposed two players wearing armbands may talk to the match officials during breaks in play while they, along with the team officials, can converse with the referee before and after a game as well as half-time.
Kelly was involved with Wexford’s development squad during the Celtic Challenge where the best and fairest player on each team in games received awards afterwards from referees, while two players from each side wore respect armbands and could approach the man in the middle.
He is adamant the initiative can work at senior level in both codes.
“The Celtic Challenge is where the idea first came to me and I thought it worked an absolute treat. Everybody is giving out about the lack of referees and the lack of good referees and respect. Referees have to give respect as well and that’s in my motion too. He has to show it to the players.
“Every day I go out, there are lads mouthing on the sideline and giving out and then you have fellas asking why we do it, why we take up refereeing, what do we see in it?
“I enjoy it, it keeps me fit, it keeps me going but I wanted to improve things so I put in this motion and I worded it myself as best I could.”
Any player speaking to the referee other than the three designated individuals is considered dissent and treated accordingly. Contesting a free would see the ball brought forward by 13 metres while a free can be cancelled if a player on the team that has been awarded it shows dissent. Frees can also be given for dissent exhibited in open play.
Should a team official not wearing the armband speak to the referee, the county in question receives a fine.
Kelly believes the idea would strengthen the authority of the referee and create a better environment to improve to the best of his ability.
“You have the two players, usually a centre-back and a centre-forward in the Celtic Challenge, and if they had a query they could come along and speak to the referee during a break in play like ‘what was the last free for?’ It only takes two seconds. The referee might say, ‘Pull of a jersey’ and that’s that. There doesn’t have to be a big conversation. If you give a yellow or red card all you need to explain is what exactly it was for.”
The feedback Kelly has received has been largely positive and he is hopeful the motion, which will be proposed by Wexford secretary Gearóid Devitt, will receive the required 60% to become a rule.