Saturday 22 October 2016

Controversial Christy Ring final replay unlikely to go ahead this weekend

Published 08/06/2016 | 02:30

Antrim's Paddy Burke looks dejected after the controversial Christy Ring Cup final. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Antrim's Paddy Burke looks dejected after the controversial Christy Ring Cup final. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The replay of the Christy Ring Cup final between Meath and Antrim, fixed for Saturday night in Newry at 7pm, is virtually certain not to go ahead.

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The Meath hurlers met in Dunganny, Meath GAA's headquarters, last night to get a consensus on what they should do. A decision is expected to be conveyed to the County Board this morning.

Meath's management committee will sit before a full scheduled county board meeting tonight to discuss the issue after the GAA's Central Competition Controls Committee ruled that a replay was required on the basis that referee John O'Brien had acknowledged he had made a mistake in collating the scores in Croke Park last Saturday evening.

The CCCC went ahead and fixed the replay but the decision has not gone down well in Meath where PRO Martin O'Halloran described the outcome as "unsatisfactory".

"We want to see what's in the CCCC's report on this. Until then there will be no firm decision," he said.

Manager Martin Ennis was more forthright, telling the Irish Independent that the outcome is "farcical" and that Meath are being made to pay the price for the GAA's failures.

"We believed we won the game last Saturday night. We weren't told anything different until a few hours after it was over.

"And now we're being asked to go to Newry six days later and play a replay. It's totally unfair. It's an embarrassment for the association that this has been messed up."

Ennis said that Meath were sure that Sean Heavey had scored a perfectly legitimate point in the 41st minute but when they asked for clarification, they didn't get it.

Despite fixing the game for this weekend the CCCC may be willing to re-fix it for the following week if Meath made clear their reasons for not playing on Saturday night.

"It's a very difficult situation for the players. They've already celebrated. Antrim could have an opportunity to win over 70 minutes instead of 20 of extra-time. I've no doubt we would have beaten them because momentum was with us."

Meath's cause isn't helped, either, by the prospect of some of their players being unavailable as they head to the US for the summer, while others are understood to be planing a trip to the first Irish game against Sweden in the European Championship finals in France.

Ennis has confirmed that goalscoring hero Sean Quigley is leaving for the US in the morning.

Antrim are also set to be without players this weekend because of holidays. Allowing both teams to contest the Leinster Championship next year has been firmly ruled out by the GAA.

Irish Independent

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