Cork board apologise to Padraig Hughes over infamous 'semi-final' statement
Published 13/08/2015 | 02:30
The executive of the Cork county board has apologised to Armagh referee Pádraig Hughes for suggesting that he cost their footballers a place in the All-Ireland semi-final.
It's understood that they wrote to Hughes last weekend, expressing regret over a controversy which they sparked on August Bank Holiday Monday.
In a hard-hitting statement, issued 29 days after the drawn Cork-Kerry Munster final, the executive apportioned blame to Hughes for the Rebels' elimination from the championship.
"It is quite probable that but for a totally wrong refereeing decision in that game, Cork would now be in an All-Ireland semi-final," noted the statement.
Its main purpose was to pay tribute to departed manager, Brian Cuthbert, and to challenge what the executive described as "unjustified and personalised abusive criticism from certain elements of the media, which has continued since he has stepped down as manager".
It also mentioned the quick turnaround between the replay defeat by Kerry and the qualifier clash with Kildare as contributory factors to the eight-point defeat by opposition that later lost to Kerry by 7-16 to 0-10.
However, it was the trip into unprecedented territory for a board executive when it effectively blamed a referee for a county's exit from the championship that caused most surprise.
That the claim was made almost a month after the game made it all the more bizarre.
Cork were unhappy with Hughes, who awarded a controversial penalty to Kerry at a crucial stage of the second half.
James O'Donoghue, the player whom the referee deemed to have been fouled, converted the opportunity into a goal and Kerry went on to draw the game before winning the replay.
The Rebels' unusual stance, as portrayed in the statement, drew widespread criticism.
Cork may still face reprimand from the GAA Management Committee over a serious breach of accepted practice.