Wednesday 26 July 2017

'Officials went to San Diego this year, maybe we should do a bucket collection': Dubs boss on Hawkeye controversy

McGonigle furious over lack of technology as controversial 'point' leaves Dubs distraught

Cork’s Annie Walsh scores her side’s only goal of the game during the Ladies SFC final. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cork’s Annie Walsh scores her side’s only goal of the game during the Ladies SFC final. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Gregory McGonigle believes the Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) have let his players down after Dublin were controversially denied a draw when a first-half effort from Carla Rowe was waved wide, with no Hawk-Eye in use to correct the mistake.

Cork 1-7 Dublin 1-6

Rowe's 22nd-minute shot into the Hill 16 end clearly went between the posts but despite some protestations from a handful of Dublin players, referee Brendan Rice didn't award the score.

Cork players Doireann O'Sullivan, left, and goalscorer Rhona Ní Bhuachalla rejoice. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cork players Doireann O'Sullivan, left, and goalscorer Rhona Ní Bhuachalla rejoice. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

It seemed of little consequence as Cork steamrolled the Dubs in the final quarter to lead by four points heading into injury-time, with super-sub Rhona Ní Bhuachalla hitting the all-important goal, but the Dubs produced a grandstand finish.

With the clock ticking down Sinéad Aherne scored a penalty in the dying seconds to leave the minimum between the sides but Cork were saved by the bell as the 'missing point' reared its ugly head.

For McGonigle, who was losing his fifth senior final after two as Monaghan boss and a trio with Dublin, it was a bitter pill to swallow.

The Derry native feels the circumstances of the defeat are an indictment of a lack of equality in ladies sport. "You obviously don't want to come in here making excuses for why we lost the game. Obviously, there are factors. Possibly, a big one was our conversion rate of missed chances in the first half," he said.

The Cork team celebrate with the Brendan Martin Cup. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
The Cork team celebrate with the Brendan Martin Cup. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Equality "But what I would say here is we preach all year about having equality and standards. If this happened next Saturday, we would be going to Hawk-Eye? If you take down the posters of Sinéad Goldrick and Briege Corkery (below) and the other girls plastered around Ireland...if there was €1.5 million put into our association and if it cost 10 grand for Hawk-Eye.

"Are we actually serious about ladies sports or do we just say, 'We do what we can do and if it costs us a wee bit extra money we don't want to do it?' When we come to our national stadium to play I believe a young girl of 12 years of age growing up dreaming to play in Croke Park should be getting the same basics as the men get. Fundamentally, I believe our ladies association have let us down."

Before the controversy arose, Cork started the brighter in atrocious conditions for free-flowing football with Orla Finn (free) and the magnificent Doireann O'Sullivan kicking them ahead in the opening minutes before Rowe scuffed an early goal chance.

Dublin skipper Noelle Healy fired over a fine point to open their account in the 11th minute but Finn stretched the gap to two, 0-3 to 0-1, with another placed ball before Cork went scoreless for the remaining 16 minutes as the Dubs seized control.

Carla Rowe of Dublin shoots for a point which was subsequently given as a wide. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Carla Rowe of Dublin shoots for a point which was subsequently given as a wide. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Accuracy in front of the posts was hurting the Jackies as they were unable to make their dominance count on the scoreboard but Aherne, who had a ding-dong battle with Bríd Stack throughout, hit an excellent point to close the gap.

Rowe's point attempt, which was remarkably waved wide and the decision branded a "disgrace" by the Clann Mhuire attacker after the game, followed but they responded like a team keen to break the dominance of the six-in-a-row-chasing Rebelettes with Lyndsey Davey and Aherne sending them in ahead at the break, 0-4 to 0-3.

When Aherne pointed an early second-half free, they were sending all the right signals that they were ready to possibly end their final jinx but the half-time introduction of Ní Bhuachalla gave Cork a much-needed boost and she stemmed the tide with a cool finish after trojan work form captain Ciara O'Sullivan.

Read more: 'Cork have nine or ten Roy Keanes'

While Niamh McEvoy levelled five minutes later, Cork were beginning to grind down the Dubs and eight scoreless minutes elapsed before they kicked on, putting the squeeze on Dublin's attack with Doireann O'Sullivan hitting a monster point at the other end.

Briege Corkery of Cork lifts the cup. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Briege Corkery of Cork lifts the cup. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Finn got her first from play and another two beauties from O'Sullivan, including an excellent long-range free, left them in complete control, 1-7 to 0-6, as McGonigle's Dubs struggled to make any inroads into a masterful Cork defence, led by Deirdre O'Reilly.

After winning a penalty Aherne dusted herself off to beat Martina O'Brien with a last-minute spot-kick but time was against them as a record-breaking Cork side celebrated an extraordinary sixth consecutive title as McGonigle was left to ponder what might have been with the possibility of an appeal to seek a replay.

"I think I saw something last year that it was too much money [the use of Hawk-Eye] and if that's what it comes down to I definitely don't think we're skint. Put it on the flipside, 45 to maybe 60 officials spent a week in San Diego in the earlier part of the year. What do you think would be more important?" he asked.

"I think the association have to look at it, do they really take care about our players? We need to be setting our own standards and if the lesson from this year is that Hawk-Eye is there for next year than that's something that should be implemented.

"If it comes down to a cost issue then surely we can all maybe do a bucket collection," he added. "I just think it seems to be ladies sport, every time we get two steps forward, we end up kicking ourselves in the backside and going back a way."

An LGFA spokesperson explained the Hawk-Eye situation and how the system would have to be recalibrated due to the use of a size-four ball.

Read more: Cora Staunton: Hawk-Eye absence ridiculous but Dublin appeal won’t succeed

"It went in front of Central Council, whether or not to use Hawk-Eye, earlier on this year. The decision was taken that in order to have a level playing field for all teams playing on all fields throughout the country, throughout the championship, that we wouldn't use Hawk-Eye.

"It's a size four - it's different to what the men use. We would have to reconfigure the whole system."

SCORERS - Cork - D O'Sullivan 0-4 (1f), R Ní Bhuachalla 1-0, and O Finn 0-3. Dublin - S Aherne 1-3 (2f, 1-0 pen), L Davey, N McEvoy and N Healy 0-1 each.
CORK - M O'Brien; M Ambrose, B Stack, R Phelan; S Kelly, D O'Reilly, V Foley; A Walsh, B Corkery; R Buckley, A O'Sullivan, O Farmer, C O'Sullivan, D O'Sullivan, O Finn. Subs: R Ní Bhuachalla for A O'Sullivan (h-t), E Scally for A Walsh (44)
DUBLIN - C Trant; O Carey, D Murphy, L Caffrey; S Goldrick, S Finnegan, N Collins; L Magee, N McEvoy; M Lamb, N Healy, C Rowe; L Davey, S Aherne, N Owens. Subs: S Woods for Owens (44), M Ní Scanaill for Caffrey (44), S Furlong for Lamb (50), O Leonard for McEvoy (52), L Collins for Murphy (53)
REF - B Rice (Down)

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