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Barry Kelly: lessons from a hurling referee

Barry Kelly is a top class hurling referee. I have to admit I didn’t know what kind of sport it was when I went to Dublin. But eventhough I am not familiair with it, Kelly gave me some wonderful tips and lessons I can use as football referee.

If you don’t know hurling either, check this out:

Here are some nice lessons and quotes from Barry Kelly:

  • Always make decisions on it’s merits
  • Get some people skills
  • You’ll make mistakes whey you’re tired
  • The best place to watch a game is from the center of the field
  • You can even loose controle after 10 seconds
  • There’s less intolerance of mistakes
  • No one starts refereeing with dreams of getting to the very top
  • Refereeing can be easier in stadiums with big crowd

Barry Kelly worked out a few of them in his speech. I’ve added that below.

Always make decisions on it’s merits

Barry Kelly: “The pressure is on after a red card or a second yellow. In hurling they might have almost decapitated an opponent with their stick. But they expect you to do them a favour. And I know people don’t like it when players are sent-off, especially in finals. My advice: Always make judgements on it’s merits.”

Seems obvious, but you only will do that when you keep it in mind. This season I gave a penalty kick and a player of the other team fell in the penalty box just a few minutes later. I did not give it, but that’s when they will ask you for a penalty kick too.

Get some people skills

So you need to be psychologically and socially strong. Wikipedia writes: It’s “the ability to communicate effectively with people in a friendly way”. You need to build relationships of trust. Barry Kelly: “I work at a secondary school and that’s how I learn a lot of those skills. Others should maybe work on that.”

There’s less intolerance of mistakes

Barry Kelly: “People want referees to be perfect. There is less intolerance of mistakes. You can ref well for 88 minutes, make one mistake then and you are the bad guy.”

Big crowd

Barry Kelly: “Refereeing can be easier in stadiums with big crowd. You just hear the noice. You don’t hear individual comments any more.”

Read other stories from the referee conference in Dublin:

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