No games for referees without four umpires
KILTEGAN’S Damien Byrne raised the continuing issue of a lack of match umpires at GAA games right across Wicklow at Monday evening’s County Board meeting in Ballinakill.
‘Three championship matches for three weeks in a row; three referees took to the fields with only two umpires, and I’m led to believe that one of the referees was offered two umpires by the club that was hosting the match and he refused the umpires, that came from that club. I think it’s not good enough. I’ve spoken to the referee’s administrator, Eddie Leonard, as well in a conversation on this. I think the referees have to be addressed on this.
‘This thing of going (to matches) with two umpires is not good enough. It’s not fair on clubs, not fair on players, because one umpire, and I know from experience of umpiring, you cannot see everything that’s going on. There are players being sent off as we see in this document here (minutes of the CCC meetings) and there’s players getting off and I don’t think it’s being fair to the clubs or the players. The referee is not carrying out his duties, to be fair, he shouldn’t be going out with two umpires,’ he said.
Wicklow GAA’s referee administrator Eddie Leonard said he ‘totally agreed’ with what Damien Byrne had just said and he added that the onus was on the match referee to provide four umpires, preferably from his own club.
‘He was offered the umpires and he didn’t take them, and I will speak to the referee in question about that. But going forward, I will, myself, Paul Wilson and Kieron Kenny, we will be looking at the record of this and only referees who are guaranteed to provide four umpires will be appointed to further championship games’.
‘Any championship where the referee hasn’t got four umpires, he is letting himself down and he’s giving himself no chance at all, so that will be addressed immediately,’ said Leonard.
Paul Wilson told the delegates that the county is ‘flying by the seat of your pants’ when it comes to referees and umpires.
‘We are literally down to the bare minimum,’ he said. ‘There are matches there where we haven’t had umpires because they aren’t in the system. So, clubs are going to have to do something about that, as in nominate people to come forward as referees. If the officials aren’t there it‘s not possible,’ he added.
‘I totally agree with that,’ said Damien Byrne. ‘But the one thing that is being driven here by the top table all year and by yourself, Paul, is that if the club steps out of line they are going to be fined. To be fair, if the referee arrives out with two umpires there’s no consequences. It’s not good enough. It has to be addressed,’ he said.
‘Clubs have to take a little bit of onus as well,’ said County Chairman Martin Fitzgerald. ‘The abuse of umpires does be terrible at times, too,’ he said.
Billy Byrne wondered if the referee didn’t accept the offer of umpires due to a lack of training or experience.
‘We can’t just pick anyone, you know, hop into the back of a car and do umpire for me. If an incident happens, what happens then?’ he asked.
‘But every referee is a member of his club, he’s an active member of his club. I’m sure he can pick up four guys,’ added Damien Byrne.
The Valleymount delegate asked if it was in the rules that the host club was to provide umpires. Martin Fitzgerald said that it was not a rule any more.