A RECRUITMENT drive geared towards increasing the number of referees in the county has received a “fairly positive” response according to refeering adminstrator Eugene McConnell.
In his report to this year’s convention, McConnell explained that their persistence in ramming home the message “no ref – no game!” has resonated with the clubs.
It’s an issue that has threatened to reach a critical mass between a lack of steady recruits, burn out, retirement and a high level of drop outs.
Thankfully, McConnell says they have enlisted a number of new recruits to the refereeing panel ahead of the 2018 season.
He said: “The emphasis in delivering the direct message to clubs that they have an obligation to provide at least one referee has made clubs focus on their responsibility.
“The joint approach of working together has provided a much better appreciation of the difficulties around recruitment.”
A number of rookie referees have already stepped up the plate to officiate matches in their first year, which McConnell says has greatly reducing pressures on the existing referee’s panel.
He further noted that the condensed club championship, which was ran off in a six-week window, placed an exceptional burden on the men in black.
“This hectic period put undue pressure and strain on both the referees and administrators. It is not practical to hope to cover all championship venues where there are two or three venues being used on the same day.”
He also expressed concern at the lack of new hurling referees, with only one new recruit in the past year.
He commented: “The haphazard nature of youth hurling fixtures and the amount of games not played does not lend itself to providing the adequate plaform for hurling referees to gain appropriate experience.”
McConnell, who was appointed as Tyrone’s new public relations officer at Tyrone’s annual convention a fortnight ago, also says it is imperative that referees are treated with respect.
“The referee deserves to be treated equally to the players. Referees continue to make huge sacrifices week-in and week-out. They commit so much time and effor into what they do.
“They train as hard as anyone else and they are away for lengthy periods of time. The majority of the time they are on their own.”
McConnell also paid special mention to Sean Hurson, who took charge of a number of intercounty matches this season, as well as the Hogan Cup final in Croke Park. And no pressure Sean, but he also expressed his hope that the Galbally man will soon have the chance to officiate an All-Ireland final.