Fixtures in doubt over ref shortage

Clubs in Tyrone received a stark warning yesterday that games could be called off due to a shortage of referees.

Nine clubs have no officials on the county panel, and there is not a single hurling referee, county chairman Ciaran McLaughlin revealed at annual convention.

McLaughlin, who was returned for a fifth term, warned clubs must play their part in ensuring a dwindling number of referees does not fall further, or face the consequences.

“Clubs need to change this or be faced with games being called off. For 2014, I’d urge all clubs to undertake a recruitment drive. Its success will determine next steps,” he told delegates.

“The time has come for clubs to identify new recruits. At this season’s end, the county has a panel of 50 referees. Nine football clubs have no referee and there are no hurling referees.”

Fixtures were affected for a different reason in the past season, with the success of the county’s senior and minor teams forcing a delay in the start of the club championships.

With the seniors reaching the All-Ireland semi-final, and the minors going all the way to the final, the domestic championships did not begin until September.

Following an in-depth review, a fixtures plan has been put together in a bid to avoid a repeat of the congestion experienced in 2013, when the senior championship was played off in five weeks and two days.

“In an attempt to avoid a repetition, for 2014, our fixtures planners have drafted a carefully constructed fixtures plan.

“All of us want a season with games planned and at regular intervals. I urge you all to consider the plan and where you see areas of improvement, you need to respond immediately to the fixtures planners and the CCC.”

Yesterday’s convention was held for the first time in the new Garvaghey Centre, and the chairman urged delegates to guarantee the viability of the £6.8m complex by ensuring a high level of usage.


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