This is a panel where referees, having being nominated by their province, are appointed by the IRFU to referee a number of top quality matches in the other provinces. This system enables the IRFU Referees Committee to have an accurate database at their disposal, in order to make referee appointments to the National Panel. This pathway proved successful for Oâ00Brien and he was selected for the National Panel for the coming season which already boasts fellow Connacht referee David Connolly. David's biggest game to date was the 2007 Connacht Schools Final when Garbally College took on Marist College Athlone. He has come a long way from his first game in 1999 when he took charge of an Under-16s game between his local club and a touring English side, a match in which he describes his performance as "not great."
On receiving the Young Referee of the Year, David said: "I am delighted to receive the award. Getting into the National Panel for 2007/8 was my main goal last season and thankfully I did it. Receiving this award is a great honour and from a personal point of view it's nice to know that the effort that I put in over the course of last season was deserving of such an award.
"I have to thank the IRFU Referees Department who, under the stewardship of Owen Doyle, has given me enormous help and support, the Connacht Referees Association, who have been very helpful to me since joining the association, and my club Cobh Pirates and its members, who are the reason I am involved in rugby in the first place and that I have such a love for the game."
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