Laois GAA officials have been banging on about a shortage of referees for the last few years and now it has really come to a head.
There were six juvenile games down for decision last night but only five referee could be sourced.
That meant that the U-17 ‘A’ hurling championship Round 3 game between Clough-Ballacolla-Mountrath and Na Fianna-Camross was in real danger of not going ahead.
Laois GAA’s pool of referees has shrunk considerably this year and so, in order to prevent the game from being called off, Laois GAA chairman Peter O’Neill pulled back out his whistle and officiated the game.
And it turned out to be an absolute thriller. Clough-Ballacolla-Mountrath won the U-16 championship last year and they are through to the semi final following a 3-15 all draw.
Na Fianna-Camross won the U-17 championship last year but they are now heading for the shield after missing out on second place on points difference.
The Harps scored a big win over Raheen Parish Gaels and leapfrogged Na Fianna-Camross to finish second.
Speaking before the game, Laois County Board chairman O’Neill warned that the amount of games would have to be reduced next year.
He said: “It is out of necessity to stop a minor hurling championship from being postponed that I went out to referee again.
“But this is a massive problem and it is not going away. We have already had a number of games cancelled this year.
“And if there is not an increase in the amount of referees available next year, the amount of competitions we run and the amount of matches we play will have to be curtailed.”