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McKeever claims that refs out to 'nail' him refuted by McEnaney

Published 03/05/2013 | 05:00

Armagh captain captain Ciaran McKeever
Armagh captain captain Ciaran McKeever

Armagh captain Ciaran McKeever has made the startling claim that he is a target for referees who want to "nail" him.

McKeever says that an inter-county referee told him last January that he was being "head-hunted" and he believes he is a "marked man" every time he goes out on the football field.

"The most annoying point for me is, and I am not afraid to say it, in January, I knew I was being head-hunted. An inter-county referee told me that the first chance they would get, they were going to nail me. That is the sad point," he said.

However his claims have been vehemently shot down by national referees chairman Pat McEnaney, who insisted yesterday that no instruction would ever be given to a referee to go after an individual.

"I would categorically refute what Ciaran is saying. Absolutely. There is no way any instruction would go out to referees to pursue an individual. That is not how we do our business," said the three-time All-Ireland final referee.

"And I'm certain none of our referees would take such a policy into their own hands. That is just not the way we operate and it is wrong.

"Our referees are not refereeing to assessors in the stands or to anything that has happened in the past. The clear instruction is that they referee what they see in front of them, and I'm very satisfied with the performances in football."

McEnaney knows McKeever personally and feels that if the player had an issue, he should have discussed it with him.

"There is no point in making such a statement unless you are prepared to back it up and I'd challenge him to provide more information," declared McEnaney.

McKeever (below) has just finished serving a four-week suspension imposed for a verbal altercation with Louth midfielder Brian White in the closing stages of a league meeting on March 16 in the Athletic Grounds.

The incident took place when White was taking a sideline kick and McKeever was acting as his team's water-carrier.

The Armagh defender accepted the offer of a hearing to defend himself against the four-week penalty, but the Central Hearings Committee (CHC) subsequently found that the incident alleged was more likely to have happened than not.

"Of course I was annoyed with the suspension I got and the terms," stated McKeever, who said he would continue to play the game the way he has always played it.

"At the end of the day, what won't kill you, will make you stronger. I will still go out and play the game I like to play and whatever happens, happens," he said.

Irish Independent

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