Munster GAA Referees Academy assisting officials
By Cian O’Connell
Five officials, who were assisted by the Munster GAA Academy, were presented with certificates at a function in Killarney on Friday.
Eoghan O’Muircheartaigh (Dingle, Kerry), Sean Walsh (De La Salle, Waterford), David Deady (Bruree, Limerick), Alan Tierney (Shannon Rovers, Tipperary) and Shane Scanlon (Newcestown, Cork) all took charge of matches in the 2023 Electric Ireland Munster Minor Championships.
It is hoped in the coming months that a further 12 officials will be involved in Academy sessions. Johnny Ryan, Secretary of the Munster GAA Referees Committee, is delighted with how the initiative is working.
“In Munster we identified that we needed to upskill referees coming from the clubs in their counties,” Ryan explains. “We wanted to make sure we were giving them every support they needed when going on to the next level.
“We designed a course which was rule development, personal development, and team work development. It was a six week course over the winter of 2022 into the spring of 2023, it also involved the umpires on one of the nights.
“We felt that they were in a way better position of being prepared for the championships in which we were hoping to appoint them. The five of them refereed in this year's minor hurling and football championships.”
The collaborative approach between clubs, counties, and the Munster Council is vital according to Ryan. “We are looking at the next Academy, we hope to have 12 referees starting in October from the six counties in Munster,” he says.
“We are already observing those referees in club matches and identifying where these referees will need the most help. So we are working with the co-ordinators in those counties developing these referees.
“With the split season now referees can be six months with the inter-county set-up and six months refereeing at all levels within club games. The feedback we've been getting is that they are better referees after doing the course. That is the result we are looking for.”
Ryan is adamant that providing help and guidance for emerging officials is vital to help them prosper. “There is a buy in for this from the officers of the Munster Council, from the co-ordinators in each of the counties, and from the referees themselves,” he adds.
“This is now going to be the template going forward when referees are upgraded from their counties to the provincial panel, they will be assisted in their development by the Academy.”
A clear pathway is being established in Munster for emerging referees with the initial six week course proving to be a success. “It was in a classroom environment, but basically we want to develop the referees,” Ryan remarks. “We wanted them to bring their own experiences to a collective. We'd ask how would our top referees have dealt with different situations.
“The majority of the referees, who are refereeing at underage, our aim is to get these to be refereeing at the top in the province and ultimately on to national level.
“There has to be a conveyor belt of referees coming through. You have a shortage of referees at all levels. So if we leave it to the previous system of just letting them develop by themselves in their own way it was taking longer.
“Like every other aspect of sport in the association there is development, we are now identifying this is the best way to develop our referees. There is a benefit to the clubs in each county and to our games.
“Even when they were involved in the Academy last year their own counties could see a benefit in what was being done.”