Irish referees receive prestigious call-ups
Kelly’s appointment represents the first such selection of an Irish match official at a UEFA tournament at that level. Women’s referee, Paula Brady has also received a massive boost when she was selected to attend a fitness test ahead of the UEFA Women’s U19 Championship which takes place in Belarus this July.
Cork based referee, Alan Kelly has had a successful season so far with a number of high profile appointments including a FIFA World Cup 2010 qualifier when he took charge in the group 7 clash between Romania and Lithuania last September and he followed that up with a UEFA Cup, round of 32 game, for a second year in succession between Deportivo La Coruna and Aa Alborg in February 2009.
Kelly, who is Ireland’s only UEFA category 2 referee will travel to Sweden to take part in the fitness test on Friday June 12th and will only be selected for the final tournament should he pass the fitness assessment and one of the remaining six referees fail the test.
Speaking about the UEFA U21 Championships, Alan Kelly said, “I am delighted to receive this call up from UEFA to the seven man panel for the UEFA U21 Championships, obviously I would have liked to be in the top six but to be placed 7th in a total group of 42 category 2 referees in Europe is still impressive. I would clearly like to be officiating at the finals but I would like to wish the six other referees the best in their assessment but if not, I will be ready to step to play my part in the finals.”
Kelly added, “Irish referees have been receiving a high caliber of matches within UEFA such as Dave McKeon and Ian Stokes and that is testament to the work that is going into the referee system in Ireland. At the moment I am a UEFA category 2 referee and I am always striving to become a category 1, sooner rather than later. That category is very different to any other level because there are added factors in big matches such as the pressure from players and the fans. It is very physically and mentally challenging and it takes so much dedication and sacrifices but that is what we are striving towards at the moment and hopefully when the classifications are announced next January, there may be the possibility of earning a promotion to that level,” he said.
Chairman of the FAI Referee Committee, Mr. Willie Bradly expressed his delight at the appointments, “I am thoroughly delighted but not surprised with these significant appointments. Paula Brady and Alan Kelly are two of the best ever pupils of the FAI referees school of excellence. This is the best ever achievement for Ireland’s referees and is a testament to the hard work and effort which is being put in by FAI referees department manager, Pat Kelly. Like never before, Irish referees are the fittest and best prepared officials in Europe and this is a great honour which has been bestowed in the Association by UEFA,” said Bradley.
“There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes throughout the country in recruiting young and enthusiastic referees who want to attain the highest accolades at their level. Referees who come into the game now have a clear and concise path to become a top referee in this country and they have a massive opportunity to represent their country at the highest level as a referee in some of the top football tournaments in the world,” added Bradley.