By Randal Scally
Jackie Longworth had two motivations for becoming a GAA referee in 2018. The first was to redress the referee shortage in his club, while the second was to aid his recovery from a serious back injury.
Having taken charge of a number of challenge matches 30 years earlier, refereeing was nothing new to the Tullamore GAA stalwart. But in order to referee again, he would first have to attend a referee’s course.
NOEL COONEY ENCOURAGEMENT
“When I first refereed in the 1980s, you didn’t have to be an official referee to do challenge matches. That’s not the case anymore. Noel Cooney was on to me at the time to do the referees course, but I was working in transport and it wasn’t very conducive to refereeing,” he remembers.
“It’s always a struggle to get someone to ref challenge matches, especially at underage level, so seeing this I decided to do the referee’s course three years ago. I had only intended to ref challenge matches involving my own club, but ended up reffing league and championship games in both codes all over the county.”