Moneycorp Presents: Umpire Spotlight – John Enright
Each month, AFL Europe will showcase an umpire contributing to the game of Australian Football around the continent. Many thanks to Moneycorp for their continued support of AFL in Europe and this Umpire Spotlight segment.
From playing in Canada through 2003 to becoming a regular ARFLI and AFL Europe umpire in 2018, John’s relationship with Australian Rules football is now 15 years strong.
As John recalls, it was his Gaelic footy background that made Aussie Rules a sport reasonably comfortable for him to play.
“I started playing in Canada with the Toronto Dingos in 2003.”
“With my GAA background it was easy enough to slot into an Aussie Rules team and I was fortunate enough to be involved with a decent team that won the OAFL flag that year.”
“When I came back to Ireland I initially joined the Leeside Lions before moving onto the Dublin Demons. I won a premiership with them in 2008 and captained them to a flag in 2009.”
With so much initial success in the early stages of his playing career, John then made his presence known through international competitions.
“I represented Ireland from 2005 to 2013 and was one of only three players to win the trinity of International Competitions.”
Somewhat unconventionally, John did start umpiring while he was still playing in Ireland. Even more strange is the story that started this aspect of his career.
“My first match as an umpire was the 2007 ARFLI grand final between the Leeside Lions and the South Dublin Swans.”
“I arrived as a spectator and the was asked to umpire as the assigned umpire didn’t show up.”
“It was a baptism of fire but I did my best and halfway through the game I realised I was really enjoying myself.
“I was hoping that the other umpire wouldn’t appear as then I would of had to of relinquished my whistle.”
“From that start point I umpired sporadically while continuing to play.”
In his umpiring career, John has been lucky enough to umpire at numerous ARFLI grand finals, international friendlies and Euro Cup Grand Finals.
His most memorable occasion however remains the 2016 European Championships in London where he spent the week under the wing of one of the AFL’s top umpire coaches, Adam Davies.
“The professionalism and coaching was brilliant and was instantly transferable to the pitch where we took what we learned into a competitive game environment.”
“The umpires also had their own house for the championship and the camaraderie and craic of that experience was second to none.”
With strong ties to AFL in the United States, John was lucky enough to umpire at the 2017 USAFL National Championships in San Diego.
Here the 37-year old was able to share the reigns with current AFL umpire Chris Donlon.
“It was a fascinating experience to see the lines he was running, his knowledge and his reading of the game.
“He was very approachable and was coaching me during the game to help me improve. I met up with him at the end of the day and he gave me one of his AFL umpire jerseys which was a nice gift.”
“Five-time grand final umpire Hayden Kennedy was also at that tournament and he even umpired a few games and really enjoyed himself.”
Back in Ireland to umpire in 2018, John is continually striving to improve his skills, fitness and overall ability as an umpire.
By taking control of more games in more destinations, John is hoping to learn and prosper with the continual development of the sport throughout Europe.
“My goal is to get my Level 2 umpire accreditation in 2018.”
“I am hoping to travel to London a few times over the year to umpire some more 18-a-side competitions and get coaching and advise from the umpire coaches over there.”
Do you know an umpire with an outstanding story in Australian Football? Get in touch via our AFL Europe Facebook page or via email to Will.Taylor@afleurope.org.