Westmeath referee James McGrath has resigned from the national hurling panel, saying it was "hugely disappointing" not to be involved in this year's All-Ireland final. 

Having not been given a semi-final assignment, many observers thought McGrath was in pole position to referee the 19 August showdown between Galway and Limerick.

However James Owens of Wexford was appointed earlier this week, with McGrath excluded from the officiating team entirely.

Tipperary’s Fergal Horgan - who took charge of last year's decider - will be the standby referee. The other linesman is Sean Cleere (Kilkenny) and the Sideline official will be Patrick Murphy (Carlow).

McGrath refereed the 2012 and 2013 All-Ireland final replays but thought, in light of his Munster final performance, that he was in line to take his place in the middle for the showpiece of the hurling season.

The 41 year old told RTÉ's GAA correspondent Marty Morrissey that the decision to call time on an intercounty refereeing career that began when he was included on the Leinster panel in 1998 was "made for him" by the selection committee.

"I have had a brilliant 18 years refereeing at the top level, it is not a decision I take lightly, it is a decision that has been made for me," he said.

The quarter-final between Kilkenny and Limerick was McGrath's last intercounty appointment

"I think I am left with no option but to step aside at this stage after a great 18 years refereeing at the top level, injury free and we have had a great championship this year. It was great to be part of such a brilliant hurling championship year.

McGrath said the commitment had reached such a level that he could not see himself returning - citing regular training camps, seminars and the short notice for games.

However the disappointment of missing out on Sunday's week final is his main reason for walking away.

"The general feeling among a lot of the public - friends and indeed members of own club, county and community - would have said I had a very good chance of refereeing the final.

"It is hugely disappointing not to be involved because the All-Ireland final is a special occasion for every match official," said McGrath. "I wish James Owens and his team the best of luck. James is a very capable referee and no doubt he will have a brilliant game on the 19th."

He added: "The central referees appointment committee made the decision to appoint the team of officials on the day, and basically I found, as a result of that, the integrity of not appointing me in some capacity for the final left me with no other option but to reflect on the last year or number of years."