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O'Neill refuses to be drawn on Cody/Kelly affair

GAA President Liam O'Neill yesterday said his recent travels on official Association business precluded him from expressing or even forming an opinion on the Brian Cody/Barry Kelly controversy.

Last week, the CHC decided Cody had no case to answer after branding Kelly's decision to award a free to Tipperary in the dying embers of their drawn All-Ireland final as "criminal."

Yet O'Neill, who has been a staunch supporter of referees and the GAA's recent 'Respect Initiative' declined to reveal his thoughts on the matter, claiming his recent trips to Australia, Kuala Lumpur and Maastricht for their regional 'county' finals left him out of the loop and unaware of the context of what was said.

While expressing his deep respect for both Cody and Kelly - who O'Neill described as "one of the greatest referees ever" - he did admit to "a source of regret to me that afterwards, that the joy of Kilkenny's win and the performance of Barry Kelly was taken out of what I thought was a very good context."

Speaking at the same event in Croke Park, to publicise the National Club Draw, where clubs can raise as much as €20,000, Tipperary defender Kieran Bergin admitted: "Ninety nine per cent of referees will give a free in (i.e. to Kilkenny."

"I thought he did a good job overall but if I was a Kilkenny player I would have been expecting a free in there. Then again, you don't really know the rules. Seemingly, he (Brian Hogan) did charge at him and he (Pádraic Maher)

stood his ground."