Referees will be allowed retake fitness tests

Brian Gavin.

Inter-county referees who failed fitness tests earlier this month will get an opportunity to retake them, the GAA have confirmed.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner last Friday, four-time All-Ireland final referee Brian Gavin claimed a number of top match officials did not reach the required level on the annual pre-season bleep test.

GAA national match officials manager Pat Doherty confirmed there were a number of officials who failed the examination.

Wexford’s James Owens, who took charge of the 2015 All-Ireland final, was not involved as he recently underwent surgery but Doherty said he is likely to be back refereeing later in the year.

Failed pre-season fitness tests are nothing new although Gavin questioned why the standard had been set so high in recent years.

“I’d be thinking early March is time enough for the first time but that’s just my opinion. We would have been doing a 20-metre bleep test and it’s gone up 16 extra runs the last six or seven years and it’s been run very strict.”

A level of disquiet about expectations placed on referees as well as their match-day facilities has been expressed recently.

In terms of mileage, referees, like GAA officials, are entitled to 50 cent per mile while players receive between 62.5c and 65c per mile based on the new GAA-GPA agreement inked in 2016.

The developments come as several counties are on promotion drives to attract referees at club level.

Before Christmas, county officials in Clare, Limerick, and Donegal admitted there was a growing shortage of whistleblowers.

In late 2016, the same situation was noted in Tyrone while Leinster referees chief John Bannon said there were not enough umpires in the province.

Meanwhile, London senior football manager Ciaran Deely yesterday took to Twitter to condemn the GAA’s officiating organisation for his team’s Division 4 game against Carlow on Saturday.

As London staged the first of seven AFL matches there this spring, Deely questioned why only referee, Cork’s James Bermingham, was flown over to be involved in the game.

“First round of League on Saturday @LONDAINGAA v @Carlow_GAA and only Referee travelled over for game from Ireland.

#GAA didn’t send over any 4th Official or match Assistant Referees. Local London officials had to be used. When is London GAA going to get the respect they deserve??”

Doherty stated it is GAA policy that match officials for London league games other than the referee are sourced from other counties in Britain.


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