THOSE with ties to the Munster Senior League will know Eddie Kenny as the manager of Rockmount’s all-conquering squad.
But those with ties to the Cork Schoolboys League will know him for another reason.
“I’ve been refereeing in the CSL for just over a year and a half now,” Kenny tells The Echo.
It was around the same time Rockmount’s MSL Premier Division title and FAI Centenary Intermediate Cup winning season began that Kenny took the opportunity to become a referee in the CSL. And he’s glad he did, even if it means his weekends have now become busier.
“I was doing my Uefa B licence and as part of that, there was a recommendation of three courses to do and one of those was refereeing.
“To be honest it was probably the easiest one to do because it was online. So I did that and Eddie Doyle rang me then — he must have got an email about who does the courses — and he was just saying would I be interested in doing it.
“To be honest, again it was probably something that never crossed my mind just because I was so busy with Rockmount, but I said I would do a month for him just to see how it will go.
Within five minutes he had two emails sent off to me about games up in Leeds Park. But I enjoyed them and I’ve enjoyed it since I started doing them, so I’ve stuck with it.
“In fairness to Eddie, when he does send us the fixtures it’s on a Sunday night and they do make it favourable that you are making yourself available, they are not giving you the fixture first.
“If we are playing on a Saturday afternoon I would put myself down for two games. The first kick-off is at 10am and the second usually kicks off at 11.30am depending on the age group.
“That normally gives me enough time to get to where I need to get to with Rockmount because I say it to them to try and keep the locations close together if possible.
“Predominantly there haven’t been many clashes. Even if we’re not playing a match on a Saturday but we’re training that morning instead, I can always look into the Whatsapp group to see if they can cover my game, and maybe I can do their game for them that afternoon or Sunday so it’s fairly flexible.
“But because I’m active in football I can’t become a member of the Cork branch, but in fairness they — Eddie McNally, Anthony Buttimer, and John Sweeney in particular — still have been very good to me as an external referee, giving me advice and always being just a phone call away.”
The FAI are hoping to entice more players and coaches currently involved in the local game to becoming a referee.
The number of officials in Ireland has declined significantly in recent years which has led to more and more matches being called off.
The reason often cited is the abuse that some officials receive from the sidelines, but Kenny hasn’t yet experienced this and he believes if more footballers or coaches become referees it would help eradicate the issue.
“The enjoyable thing for me about refereeing is that I’m able to go to a game and I’m not there to watch any players or to scout a team.
“It’s a bit of fitness as well that I get around the pitch which is good both mentally and physically.
99% of the time it has been grand. With the managers, I just like to treat people how I’d like to be treated myself.
“I might not always be right, but that’s human nature. I just think if you talk to people with a bit of respect most of the time you will get respect in return.
“I always say how your tone of voice with people will dictate what their reaction will be. If you come in authoritative — shouting and roaring — they will answer back to defend themselves.
“If that mutual respect is there between players, managers, and the referees, we will all benefit and that’s something I’ve seen since I have become a referee.”
For more information on how you can become a referee, feel free to visit fai.ie/domestic/referees