Laois GAA top brass are blue in the face (excuse the pun) looking for new referees as barely a county board meeting goes by without reference to the chronic shortage of match officials.
It’s been going on for years and it’s unlikely to ever change.
It must have come as a massive boost then for a referee with intercounty hurling experience from another county to show up wishing to become a Laois referee. That’s exactly what has happened recently with John O’Brien from Tipperary moving to Portlaoise and transferring his allegiance from his home county.
O’Brien (who isn’t the former Tipp forward of the same name) is from the Arravale Rovers club in Tipperary town but is living in Portlaoise and working in Tullamore.
Travelling up and down to ref games in Tipp wasn’t ideal but he wanted to continue refereeing so transferred to Portlaoise and has been taking charge of club games throughout the league. He has also reffed Leinster underage games as a Laois official. O’Brien has quite a lot of inter-county experience including All Ireland minor semi-finals and Christy Ring Cup games. Incidentally, he was the man in charge of the controversial 2016 Christy Ring Cup final between Meath and Antrim that was replayed after it emerged that the wrong score was recorded.
This weekend he will take charge of his first Laois SHC game when he’s the man in the middle for Sunday evening’s clash between Rathdowney-Errill and Carmoss.
The referees for the other weekend SHC games have also been appointed.
Ballinakill Gaels v Borris-Kilcotton – Kieran Bowe (Rathdowney-Errill)
Castletown v Abbeyleix – John Lalor (Shanahoe)
Clough-Ballacolla v Portlaoise – Anthony Stapleton (Rathdowney-Errill)