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Ulster see decline in championship refs

Despite the fall-out from last year’s Leinster Final between Meath and Louth, Tyrone’s Martin Sludden has been given a vote of confidence by officials as he is retained alongside Armagh’s Padraig Hughes, Cavan’s Joe McQuillan and Monaghan’s Pat McEnaney. The forced retirement of Donegal’s Jimmy White, having passed the upper age limit for referees of 50, means that Ulster’s representation on the 18-man panel has fallen by one, Fermanagh’s Martin Higgins missing the cut.
Leinster retain the highest number of top-grade referees, with almost half of the panel coming from the province. Meath have three representatives, with Joey Curley having been promoted to join Cormac Reilly and last year’s All-Ireland senior final referee David Coldrick from the Royal county. Laois contribute two whistlers, Maurice Deegan and Eddie Kinsella, while Pat Fox of Westmeath, Wexford’s Syl Doyle and Longford’s Derek Fahy completing the Leinster contingent.
The Duffy brothers from Sligo, Martin and Michael, are Connacht’s only representatives following the retirement of Gearoid O Conamha, while Kerry can also now once again boast a referee in the senior Championship pool with Padraig O’Sullivan having been promoted.
Next weekend will also see the unveiling of the new umpire apparel which will replace the traditional white coats which have been a feature of Gaelic games for so long. Although Croke Park have yet to unveil the new designs, it is widely believed that they will be very much modelled on the coloured shirts worn by their umpiring counterparts in the AFL.

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