CORK referee Shane Scanlon was recently rewarded for his consistent officiating with a call-up to the Munster panel of referees for this season.
The 23-year-old Newcestown club man is pleased with his progress to date since he started refereeing back in 2016.
“I am fortunate to have been advanced onto the Munster panel this year. I have had two outings so far this year as the fourth official for the Corn Uí Mhuirí final and for the first round of the Munster minor hurling championship between Waterford and Tipperary,” he said.
The young referee said he hopes to keep progressing up the ladder as a referee, but his main aim is to keep ‘enjoying’ it for the foreseeable future.
“I am still young, so it is hard to tell what my aims are going forward. I have been lucky in the route I have been put on.
"My sole aim for this whole refereeing journey was to get fit and anything else after that has been a bonus. I will just take whatever games I am given. I am enjoying it and long may it last.”
Shane who works as a primary school teacher in Scoil Eoin in Innishannon said he took up refereeing in 2016 initially as a means of getting fit and to ease a shortage of new referees in the county.
“I completed the referee’s course in 2016 when I was17-years-old, but I really didn’t do my first full year of refereeing until around 2018/19 due to the commitments of the Leaving Cert and college. I have no real reason for taking up refereeing.
“Joe Kelly who was involved with Rebel Óg West said that it would be a great way to keep fit while also helping to ease the burden with underage games.
"At the time I was quite unfit and overweight. It is a great way of keeping fit. If you are out reefing a good few matches a week whether it is a county league game or an underage game, the spike in activity levels is great. The main thing then is to try and remain injury-free,” he added.
Shane completed his referee's training course over several weeks in Páirc Uí Rinn.
Referees are constantly upskilling as they complete regular refresher courses added Shane.
“Over a series of Tuesday evenings, we were given the beginners course by Kevin Walsh, former Munster GAA referees administrator, and former inter=county football referee Rory Hickey.
"We delved into the fine details of the rule book, going through match situations, and discussing why and how some decisions are made. We also do an online refreshers course, and a rule test is completed after this course.
"This goes through any new rule changes such as the introduction of the advance/defensive mark two years ago and it also discusses big refereeing talking points.
”You will have tough nights, but when it goes well it's one of the most satisfying feelings you could get,” said the referee who is enjoying his officiating role.
“At the start, I was very 50/50 about the whole thing. It’s not very common for someone to take up refereeing where you are on your own, at the mercy of 30 players on a pitch and two bands of selectors.
"However, I have never looked back.
“I have had some great opportunities since I have gone through the different levels.
"I would wholeheartedly recommend anyone to get involved. It is a great way of keeping active but also because the GAA at club level is a voluntary organisation.
"Every little helps whether it is just to ease the shortage of referees or whether you want to just give referees a help doing the line at games,” he added.
The young referee has often encountered verbal abuse from players which he said does prevent more people from becoming referees.
“I suppose that is the one area that deters many prospective referees from signing up.
"I have never received any physical abuse but the verbal abuse at times can be horrific.
"Having come from a playing background you can understand at times the frustration players have for certain decisions as they are in the play and are not looking at it from the outside.
"However, when the abuse becomes personal and you are berated from a distance whether it be a player, manager, or a supporter on the outside, it does take its toll.
"People just think when you are inside a GAA grounds, you can have a free go at the only person inside the ground that can’t defend themselves.”
Shane is indebted to the invaluable help and advice he has received from so many people since he took up refereeing.
He said he has made ‘great’ friends since taking up officiating.
“Newcestown referee Eamonn Sheehy and Ian McCarthy from Bandon were very helpful. They both ensured I got great exposure to different games and different incidents.
"David Murnane from Macroom was very helpful in giving me referees gear and helping me with small tips.
"I am lucky I’ve made some great friends. I am also thankful to the present county board referee’s administrator Niall Barrett who has given me so many opportunities since I refereed my first intermediate game in 2020.
"The board is generous with the opportunities they give, and it is a case of making the most of the chance when you get it.”