Sunday, June 23, 2024

Barry Kelly honoured for refereeing over 50 hurling championship games

Mullingar man, Barry Kelly reached a major milestone in 2016 when he took charge of his 50th hurling championship game and he was duly recognised at the GAA’s National Referees Awards Banquet in Croke Park in December.

Kelly has been one of the leading hurling referees in Ireland for a long number of years now and has been part of the national panel for almost two decades. In that time he has refereed four All-Ireland hurling finals and numerous high profile hurling matches and he was the first hurling referee to get over the half century mark.
“To get the Gold Medal was nice and to be the first hurling referee to get across that particular rubicon in a way. Brian Gavin has 37 or 38 done, he is only 39 years of age so Brian can do as many as he wants within reason. He has the ability to do 60 or 70 matches if he stays at it, which he probably will,” he said.
“If you do the Final you’ll get four matches. Otherwise you’ll maybe only do three or possibly two at times so I’m 18 years inclusive at this stage and it is nice to acknowledge it,” he added.
The St Oliver Plunkett’s man has seen many changes during his time at the top and indeed since he started officiating at a very young age in Westmeath, which usually meant doing the sideline at games in Cusack Park. Of course, the game of hurling has also changed and is now much quicker, particularly at inter county level, where he he first ventured in 1999.
“I think the style of refereeing has probably evolved in the sense that maybe you have more experience. You know what to let go or what not to let go. So maybe I would think that hurling is thriving over the last 20 odd years, not because of me or anything, but I think it is a cleaner game at inter-county level. There are very few of the old style type hatchet man, lads digging off the ball, that doesn’t tend to happen much now.
You have seven or eight pairs of eyes of officials on them, camera angles, virtually every Championship match is televised. Maybe players know each other better too, they go to college together, they play Fitzgibbon Cup together, they know each other more because of social media and so on. Maybe there is less antagonistic rivalry, they are still rivals, but they are also friends.

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