Sunday 25 September 2016

'Did he have sympathy for us?' - Fermanagh's Pete McGrath on Aidan O'Shea's 'unfair' claims

Published 20/07/2016 | 21:29

Aidan O'Shea of Mayo appeals to the referee for a penalty during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 2A match between Mayo and Fermanagh at Elvery's MacHale Park in Castlebar, Co. Mayo. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Aidan O'Shea of Mayo appeals to the referee for a penalty during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 2A match between Mayo and Fermanagh at Elvery's MacHale Park in Castlebar, Co. Mayo. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

All-Ireland winning coach Pete McGrath has committed to guiding the Fermanagh footballers in 2017 but the manner of their exit from the 2016 still rankles for the Down native.

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The fallout from the Ernesider's exit to Mayo at Castlebar in Round 2 centred around the late penalty which was awarded to the home side after Aidan O'Shea hit the ground in the area without being touched by his marker.

O'Shea claimed afterwards that he didn't dive and blamed RTE for not having enough cameras at the game to capture the incident and described some of his treatment in the media, and on social media, as unfair.

Speaking on Off The Ball on Newstalk this evening, McGrath clearly didn't agree with the Mayo attacker's version of events.

"He did what he did and he would not be the only one who would do that, let's be honest.

"It's a very, very blatant example of someone taking gamesmanship to an extreme level.

"I think if we're going to condone that, or say that it's part of the game, then it's a very sad day for gaelic football.

"People said in the week after it that they maybe felt sorry for Aidan O'Shea for all the things that were being said about him and all the rest of it.

"Maybe one can feel sympathy for him but I wonder whether Aidan felt any sympathy for the Fermanagh players? Whom he, by doing what he did, took away, in an unfair way, whatever chance we had of winning the game.

"The referee of course has to be taken into the equation as well because everyone in the stadium had very serious doubts that it was a penalty and the referee, without consulting anyone, awarded it.

McGrath was adamant that if one of his players had gone down in a similar fashion on that day, no penalty would have accrued.

"At the end of the day, we all go out to win matches and there are ways to win matches, what you are putting forward is a hypothetical situatioin and I am quite convinced that if, at the other end of the field, Sean Quigley had gone down the same way that Aidan went down... I am convinced the referee would not have given the penalty.

"A county like Fermanagh is just a soft touch and the referee would have been aware that the Mayo crowd had been unhappy with some of his earlier decisions and that kicked in as well.

"I know that gaelic footballer try to buy easy frees and we sometimes go down a bit easy. This was a blatant example of not someone going down easy but someone actually diving.

"When I saw it afterwards I was amazed at the whole sort of line of movement that Aidan O'Shea's body took. It wasn't that he went down, he actually went up and down, which is a dive by anyone's definition.

"It happened, it's over, it's gone, we paid a very, very heavt price for what did happen.

"It was unfortunate that the season ended that way for a group of players that had put in an enormous effort since last November."

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