Westmeath umpires prepare for All-Ireland final
Extra Mile - by Damien Maher
Two superbly dedicated umpires will get the opportunity to officiate at the biggest game of the season when Limerick take on Kilkenny in the All-Ireland hurling final next Sunday at Croke Park.
Paul Reveille of Turin and Delvin’s David Clune will be part of referee John Keenan’s team on the biggest day in the hurling calendar. They have been officiating with the Wicklow referee for many years now and are really looking forward to next Sunday’s final.
The meeting of Limerick and Kilkenny, a repeat of last year's final, is eagerly anticipated and has the potential to be a classic.
It’s fitting that we include the two officials in this week’s Extra Mile column as Paul and David have been doing precisely that for some years now: only last Sunday they umpired at three different games in the county, one in Killucan (Brownstown versus Ringtown) and the double header at TEG Cusack Park, Raharney versus Fr Dalton’s and Lough Lene Gaels against Castlepollard. And wet weather didn’t deter their enthusiasm. Just a normal Sunday for the dedicated officials.
Next Sunday will be Paul’s second hurling final and David’s third, including the two replays at which he officiated with Westmeath’s James McGrath. They are the most unassuming of men, just fulfilling a role they have a passion for.
“I’ve been umpiring for 20 years,” Paul said. “I started with Robbie Cornally and then Richie Heffernan, and went on to umpire at intercounty games.”
Paul played hurling with Turin and has a keen interest in the game.
His fellow official David has a long association with Delvin hurling and his brothers played for the club. His father is a Clare native and David started his inter-county career with James McGrath. He has been umpiring for 25 years. He is delighted that referee John Keenan has given him the opportunity to be involved.
“It’s the pinnacle; you can’t get any higher than this. It’s the game everyone wants to be involved in and only four people get a chance to umpire each year at the All-Ireland hurling final,” remarked Paul.
Westmeath referee Barry Kelly initially got Paul Reville involved with the Wicklow official when he took him to a game he was linesman at some years ago. “There was another game after that John was doing in Dublin and I went along; that’s how it all started,” said Paul, who has been a constant on team Keenan since 2018/19.
David travelled to Athleague, Roscommon to umpire with John Keenan at a provincial club game over three years ago, following a call from Paul Reville, who couldn’t attend himself. That was the start of a glorious journey.
David is thrilled to be involved on Sunday. “I never played myself, but James McGrath asked me to get involved and that’s how it started. I really enjoy it and it’s great to be involved in the sport,” he remarked.
The pair have just found their niche, it seems.
“Some lads go playing a round of golf, I just enjoy umpiring. It’s my main hobby and there’s no better game to be involved with,” remarked Paul.
The two officials have been fortunate in that they have not incurred any serious abuse over their years involved, but that is a challenge for all match officials.
“Generally, the umpires don't get much abuse; sadly it’s the referee who tends to be the target. Yes, there’s talk from the terrace, but you turn a deaf ear to it,” said David.
The Westmeath officials will get briefed on their role on Thursday in Abbotstown, at the GAA’s development centre, where plans for Sunday’s All-Ireland final will be put in place. They expect to be in Dublin for an overnight stay on Sunday as, traditionally, there’s a post-match event to attend, at which presentations take place.
Both Westmeath umpires, along with their fellow officials, are wished the very best in Sunday’s final.