IT’S BEEN A BRILLIANT World Cup so far, but with so few draws in the opening two rounds of the tournament, some supposed group finales are beginning to have a touch of dead rubber about them.
So, rather than endure Greece or Japan from 9pm this evening, flick on over to Setanta Ireland to watch the first of a four-part documentary following Irish referees, Men In Black.
Directed by Cillian O’Conchuir and produced by Shane Tobin. the four half-hour segments will air at 9pm for the remainder of this week, each with Irish referee at the peak of their own code as the subject of the film.
Part one, tonight features football referee Alan Kelly, with Wednesday and Thursday allocated to David Coldrick and Barry Kelly of gaelic football and hurling respectively. And the documentary will conclude with intimate behind-the-scenes footage and interviews from Alain Rolland’s final days as a rugby referee.
In the case of Kelly, viewers tonight will be able to see and hear a side of football referees rarely seen. The footage tracks Kelly’s movements and hearing his constant communication with his assistant referees in the the August 2013 friendly meeting between Liverpool and Celtic (including some less than friendly words from Steven Gerrard).
The films also endeavour to show the work that goes into being a referee. There are growing commitments involved with being a man in the middle. They must be fit enough to make near-impossible on-the-spot decisions and keep up with ever-improving athletes, while also keeping the assessors in the stand happy.
So, whether you turn your back on the World Cup until the knock-out stage begins on Saturday or simply set your DVR to record at 9pm, Men In Black provides a valuable insight into the most maligned figure in sport that’s not to be missed.