Cork underage basketball suffering due to ref shortage: Matches regularly called off this season 

Last weekend alone eight games had to be postponed impacting young players
Cork underage basketball suffering due to ref shortage: Matches regularly called off this season 

Blue Demons U13 boys who got to show off their basketball talent during half-time of the Super League game recently. Picture: Larry Cummins

A SHORTAGE of referees is threatening the progress of Cork basketball according to the secretary of the Cork Referees Association John Houlihan who believes the sport is suffering from the number of cancellations.

“Last weekend eight games at Midleton (3), Ballincollig (3), Fr Mathew’s and Carrigaline suffered as we had no referees available to officiate and that’s a big disappointment to many children in this city and county.

“The problem is very simple Covid has upset many sports and speaking on behalf of the Cork referees association we are finding getting new referees is a major problem.”

The association are very active in recruiting young and old to the sport but Houlihan believes it’s pressure to be available on a weekly basis.

A recent group of young officials got involved but Houlihan believes maybe one will be available to officiate at the National Level in the next two years.

We are on a hiding to nothing because if they are good enough to referee at national level it restricts them from their involvement in Cork where we need them so badly.”

Currently, Cork have three officials officiating at Super League level and that is a huge problem for Galway-based Joe Naughton who appoints the referees in these leagues.

“There is a huge shortage nationally as the majority of referees are doing two games all over the country so we are not alone in our plight for new officials.

“If I was to be honest there are a number of referees who are not up to the grade of refereeing at Super League level but they are thrown in at the deep end simply because of the shortage.”

In many sports, a debate about referees getting verbal abuse has come to light in recent months and Houlihan believes basketball has experienced a little bit of it.

“To be fair the Cork County Board have very good to us in many aspects will not tolerate any abuse to officials and offenders and their clubs are dealt with accordingly to the offence in hand.”

Such is the shortage he was forced to officiate recently in the U18 National Cup.

“I am 65 and I basically haven’t got the legs you need at that level but it was a case of getting the job done or there would have been a lot of disappointed players.” 


Over the last month, the Cork secretary has called on former referees to get involved in helping their present plight.

“I approached Paul Barrett and Cathal O’Flaherty of Neptune and they both agreed to help and I will knock on another few doors in the coming weeks to keep the show on the road.”

The appeal is simple John Houlihan is asking the basketball fraternity to help them in their hour of need.

“We will help in any possible way and if you would like to get interested in refereeing please do not hesitate to contact us.”

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