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20th Jan 2024

Top GAA inter-county referees fail fitness tests in record numbers before National League

Lee Costello

Only 19 out of 42 referees passed the test.

Top GAA referees, including last year’s All-Ireland final ref David Gough, have failed their fitness tests before the start of the Allianz National League.

The GAA have imposed a new and more difficult test this year, but it appears that they may have underestimated just how much more difficult, because only 19 of 42 inter-county referees succeeded in meeting the tough new pre-season fitness levels in tests conducted on Friday at Abbotstown.

According to The Irish Examiner highly regarded match officials such as Gough, David Coldrick, Niall Cullen, Anthony Nolan and Derek O’Mahoney all came up short in the tests.

Joe McQuillan, Conor Lane, Paul Faloon, Sean Hurson and David Murnane all passed, meaning that they and the others who made up the 19 successful applicants, are the only referees eligible to to officiate next weekend’s Allianz Football League opening round. The remainder will have to be employed as standby officials.

The beep test, which has long been the bane of GAA players and referees alike, is a test where the participants run from one line to another, 20m apart, and they have to reach said line before they hear the beep.

The beep starts off quite slow, but as you go through the levels it eventually gets faster and faster, until inevitably you hear its sound before you manage to reach the line, and you are out, with your score marked down as whatever level it was you reached at that point.

Normally the failure rate for beep tests would be no more than a select few, but it is likely that they will do a repeat test after the third or fourth round of the National League.

DCU’s Dermot Sheridan took over the role this year as facilitator of the tests, and now he and the GAA have a situation on their hands and a question to answer – was the test too difficult, or are referees simply not fit enough for inter-county standard?

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