Since the hurling 20/20 report has been published, there has been quite a bit of debate concerning the whole area of refereeing. In particular, the current setup of a joint committee of football and hurling under the leadership of Pat McEnaney.
The report made a proposal that there should be a separate referees committee for hurling, which would be a positive move.
It has to be said that the current format is not working. Football and Hurling are entirely different sports and should be treated as such. Having the two of them under the one umbrella, means referees who are appointed are coming from all over the country, some from counties that don’t necessarily have strong GAA roots.
To officiate a game successfully, the referee needs to have a solid understanding of the rules. Not easy when the rules of hurling and Gaelic football are becoming worryingly similar (black cards in both codes, for example).
John Prenty, a leading GAA administrator has expressed his opposition saying,
“To have a separate hurling referees committee, in my opinion, could be divisive and unnecessary. There has always been a balance in the National Referees’ Committee whose brief, in essence, is to ensure that all referees in football and hurling referee the games in accordance with the rules.”
The problem is that referees are not interpreting the rules correctly. Hurling has seen more controversial calls in the last year and a half because of referees making easily-avoidable mistakes.
Yes it would be divisive, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Having the committee split would produce referees fully briefed on the rules of their chosen sport.
If they make a mistake, it will not be because of misinterpretation. What’s more, the referees appointed would be from a hurling county, would have a strong understanding of how the game is played, and can exercise common sense in high-pressure situations.
If a team would lose a game, it would be because they were second-best, not because of a controversial decision.
For the good of hurling, we need a separate committee.
Ashling Dalton, Pundit Arena