AFTER the heroics of the Carlow senior hurling team in winning the National Hurling League Division 2A title and following up with a Joe McDonagh Cup final success it was back to the bread and butter stuff as the first round of the senior hurling championship threw in over the weekend.
Far away from club fare however two Carlow referees were taking part in the biggest games of their lives with Pat Murphy of Ballinkillen taking charge of the Galway and Dublin minor hurling semi-final on Saturday in Croke Park while just over 24 hours later at the same venue Paud O’Dwyer of Palatine was the man in the middle in the Limerick and Cork senior hurling semi-final classic which went to extra-time. Both referees came through both games without attracting any adverse comment.
Brian Deering, who is acting Chairman of referees in Carlow, paid tribute to O’Dwyer and Murphy.
“It is a great reflexion on the standard of referees in Carlow that we have two guys on the national stage in the All-Ireland series. For the size of the county we are it is a great source of pride and satisfaction,” said the Rathvilly man who went on to praise the dedication of the referees and the team of umpires which accompanies Murphy and O’Dwyer at venues around the country and within the county.
“It is not just the referees. It is the four umpires who back him up and others who make themselves available down through the years.”
Deering alluded to the long journey which intercounty referees have to undertake to get to the level which O’Dwyer and Murphy have travelled.
“It is not just by accident this has happened. They have come through a system where they have refereed all the division three and four games in hurling and where they have officiated at games in venues up and down the country while their umpires are with them as well.”
Meanwhile on Saturday in Netwatch Cullen Park St Mullins and Naomh Eoin played out a 1-12 to 0-15 draw with intercounty player, James Doyle of St Mullins, scoring the only goal of the game just before half-time.
On Sunday reigning champions, Mount Leinster Rangers, beat Ballinkillen by 0-23 to 1-12. Chris Nolan scored eight points with Rangers making a statement of their intentions for the year. Winning manager, Brendan Fennelly, was happy with the performance.
“A decent score, they played some nice hurling. All the county lads are back. They had a very good year and are in a good frame of mind,” he pointed out.