With the first round of the club championship almost complete many spectators have witnessed the rule changes for the first time. The main changes are as follows –
-the penalty kick is now taken from 11meters as opposed to 13 meters previously, thus giving the team fouled a better advantage.
-All kickouts are now taken from 13 meter line.
-All side line kicks must be kicked from behind the line.an infringement here results in a throw up ball.
-In the event of an accidental clash eg heads play is stopped and restarted with a free kick to the team in possession when the whistle was blown. The only stipulation here is that a score cannot be kicked directly from this free.
-The most significant change comes with the handpass. A legal hand pass is only where there is a clear underhand striking action. This change caused initial frustration. Indeed most players at both inter county and club level are now using the more traditional fist pass.
Over the club championship weekends it was obvious that spectators were mystified as to why substitutes were waiting for what seemed long periods to enter the field of play. Substitutions only take place during a break in play which is directly after a score, a wide has been kicked or a delay for a serious injury where a player has to be replaced.
The general feed back from the championship games has been very positive. With no major incidents good players have the opportunity to express themselves in all areas of the field. All referees and officials are assessed in these games and many club matches throughout the year.
Clubs from all divisions have given encouraging reports back through the referees development officer with regard to standards this year so far. Tyrone referees are constantly striving to raise the bar and after fitness tests, written exams and assessments are certainly working harder than ever to facilitate our games.
Indeed a number of our refs are operating at provincial and national level.Young referees like Fergal Ward (Errigal Ciaran) and Sean Hurson (Galbally) are in the Ulster Academy system. At provincial level in football Fergal Daly (Gortin),Cathal O Hagan (Brackaville),Eugene McConnell (Clogher) and Eammon McHugh (Aghyaran) have participated in various games and Eammon earned worthy praise for his handling of the Derry v Armagh Ulster minor championship game which one of the first games played with the new rules. In hurling John Devlin (Pomeroy) and Seamus Gilmore (Urney) have featured in games.
At national level this year we are represented by Stephen McNamee (Newtownstewart) and Martin Sludden (Dromore).Martin is a member of the top 18 refs in Ireland who will be handling all football championship games. He has already officiated at the Armagh v Monaghan senior Championship game and earned high praise from all circles at a time when refs were being made scapegoats for poor quality games by certain elements of the media.
All our referees do their best any day they take the field and it is important they get the respect they deserve from players, managers and spectators. Without the man in the middle there can be no game. Appreciate all the hard work they have put in and they will conduct our games with respect, honesty and endeavour that make for everyone’s enjoyment.
Raymond Monteith (Tyrone Referees Committee)