Monday 24 July 2017

Memorable moments from a remarkable series . . .

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

A number of iconic moments stand out about the Meath v Dublin saga.

Chief among them were the 'sandwich' collision in which Colm O'Rourke was caught between Eamonn Heary and Keith Barr after four minutes of the last game and the penalty Dublin were awarded in the second half of that match.

O'Rourke incurred a ferocious belt when he raced on to a pass four minutes into the match.

As he got his hands on the ball, almost simultaneously, Heary hit him hard with his shoulder, knocking O'Rourke's upper body backwards and the Meath forward then collided with the in-rushing Barr.

Referee Tommy Howard was on the spot. His first concern was for O'Rourke.

"I remember that tackle. It was a ferocious belt he got. I thought he was very badly injured, but somehow he came back on after treatment," he said.

Even now, on the DVD 'The Royal Battle,' it looks more a collision than a premeditated foul, and Howard awarded a free-kick. No booking for Heary.

For the Dublin penalty, Barr was taking the kick when Mick Lyons encroached and virtually ran beside him. Barr pulled the shot wide. No retake.

Howard admits: "It probably should have been retaken in hindsight, but you couldn't keep them back.

"At that time, for every penalty, everyone ran in. It's just that Mick Lyons was a bit nearer, but afterwards I spoke to Keith and I said: 'Keith, did you see Mick Lyons running up beside you?'.

"He told me 'Tommy, I never saw him. I just tried to place it inside the post and it went wide'."

AFTERMATH

MEATH and Dublin county boards received hefty contributions for holiday funds from the Leinster Council; referee Tommy Howard got a clock as a memento.

The connection with the '91 teams and the referee continued, as the teams played a few charity games in later years and Howard was asked to referee.

"These lads got to know each other. They became good friends of each other, the whole lot of them and they held golf events for charity as well," said Howard.

"But they were tough men. And Dublin -- well, a couple of times Dublin had big leads and I thought 'this is it, at last it will be over.' But Meath just wouldn't give up."

Incidentally, the GAA powers-that-be thought so highly of Howard that later in 1991 he took charge of the Leinster final between Meath and Laois on Saturday, August 10, and the All-Ireland semi-final between Down and Kerry the following day, August 11.

He refereed All-Ireland finals at senior (1993) and all other grades apart from minor during his career.

Irish Independent

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