The Gaelic Grounds in Limerick hosted yesterday’s All Ireland U-21 Hurling Final between the young men of Tipperary and Cork in what was an absolutely pulsating thriller played by two of the best young sides in the country and officiated on by one of the best hurling referees in the country, John Keenan.
John Keenan is a proud Aughrim GAA club man and an equally proud Wicklow GAA man who has worked his way to the top of the refereeing ranks alongside his father, brothers and friends who have donned the umpires white jackets alongside him all the way. As we know it is getting harder these days to recruit officials but for luckily us in the Garden County we have a referee of John’s caliber who is a shining example to any young budding referee in this county who may harbour ambitions to one day officiate at the very top level. Watching the game yesterday you would not need to be rely on wearing your Wicklow biased cap to appreciate how composed the man is in such a tense and massive occasion and it’s no coincidence the game was such a thriller with the minimum of interference from John allowing the game to flow as all hurling games should.
With Conor Stakelum netting late in injury time for Tipperary to break the hearts of a fantastic Cork side, there is no doubt that some of these young men could well be contesting next years Senior decider in Croke Park and with John Keenan’s continued outstanding performances in big games, it will be very unlikely that John doesn’t take the reigns alongside some of those young players for the biggest game of them all next year.
With top level referees like John Keenan and Anthony Nolan blazing a trail for Wicklow Referees there is no better time to get involved in officiating in this county when you have the help and support of two of the GAA’s top officials on tap.