*Referee Rory McGann ducks for cover as Damien Browne clears his lines. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

PUBLIC ATTITUDE towards referees’ decisions needs to change and become more balanced, the county’s referee administrator has said.

Former inter-county referee, Seanie McMahon was elected referee administrator in March of this year and in his first address to County Convention outlined that his main priorities in the role were focused on refereeing standards, improved facilities for referees, umpires and linesmen at all clubs within Clare and trying “to alter the public reactions and attitudes to referees’ decisions, it needs to change and be balanced”.

Introduction of a mentoring scheme by McMahon for existing referees saw over eighty percent of referees in the county mentored. “This will be expanded in 2023, hopefully for new referees from February onwards. This scheme is a pilot scheme which hopefully will be taken on at a provincial level and national level, nice for Clare to be innovators”.

With the club season drawing to a close, the Newmarket-on-Fergus man said referee recruitment “is top of my agenda”. Regional meetings have been held at four venues in Clare to try recruit new candidates for the referee’s foundation course with invites issued to representatives from all clubs.

He said that Clare GAA with the help of Munster GAA will in January be running the new foundation course module which has been drafted by Croke Park. McMahon told delegates interested candidates were more than welcome to get involved as he encouraged all clubs to forward prospective officials.

Referees administrator Seanie McMahon. Photograph: Natasha Barton

Without referees, the club championships would be in jeopardy, the man who took charge of the famous 2004 Munster hurling final warned. “The purpose of gaining extra referees in 2023 is to help existing refs by doing matches which will reduce their workload and also doing linesman or fourth official”.

Over 2,000 fixtures were done by referees in Clare this year including 520 in Bord na nÓg Peil, 587 in Bord na nÓg Iomáint, 385 in adult football, 460 in adult hurling plus ties for development squads, post primary and Cumann na mBunscoil.

Input of umpires, linesmen and fourth officials was acknowledged by the two-time Clare SHC winner. “These people are the unsung heroes, their dedication and commitment on a weekly basis has to be admired, not to mention the time spent away from their families, wifes, partners and children. I personally would like to thank these people for their understanding and patience”.

Currently Clare is represented on national and provincial panels by Rory McGann, Joe Mullins, Niall Malone and Jarlath Donnellan in hurling with Chris Maguire and Niall Quinn for football. “The future looks bright and promising for these referees in 2023. My intention is to have more referees on the Munster panel in 2023 as a new refereeing academy has just been launched, a new development to help and increase the panel in Munster.

Concluding his report, Seanie acknowledged the ongoing support of the County Executive since his election, the cooperation of fellow CCCC members, he welcomed Deirdre Murphy as Head of Operations and wished Pat Fitzgerald well on retirement.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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