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Royal court

THE Leinster Council has no objections to refixing the provincial football final - but only if Meath are agreeable to putting the Delaney Cup on the line again.

The ball is now firmly in the Royals’ court after yesterday’s Croke Park fiasco which saw Meath stun Louth with a lastgasp Joe Sheridan goal that was wrongly allowed to stand by referee Martin Sludden.

Meath club delegates will convene tonight when they will face the nightmare choice of whether to offer a refixture or keep the cup.

Ahead of that meeting, the Evening Herald has learned that Leinster Council officials met officers of the Meath county board after yesterday’s Leinster final in Croke Park.

“Basically, in a nutshell, we told them we would facilitate a refixture if they want one,” a source outlined. “It’s completely in Meath’s hands.”

It’s understood that Croke Park top brass would also have no objections to a refixture, as there’s a widespread feeling that yesterday’s debacle - both Sheridan’s goal and the ugly crowd scenes that followed - constitute a “very unsatisfactory” way to finish the game.

However, the critical factor is that GAA rules do not allow officials to retrospectively overrule a referee’s decision to award a score, even when he is patently wrong.

In this scenario, only a generous offer from Meath can lay the groundwork for a refixture. “We have to wait and see what the feeling of the county committee is tonight,” Meath secretary Cyril Creavin told the Herald.

“Ultimately that is where the decision will be made.” Describing the climax to yesterday’s Leinster final as “unfortunate”, Creavin confirmed that they will consult with Meath manager Eamonn O’Brien ahead of tonight’s scheduled monthly meeting.

“Obviously the players’ perspective will have to be taken into account because they have to play a game if such a decision is made,” the secretary added.

“At some stage today we will be making contact with team management ... all factors will have to be considered on this. We can’t just go on a solo run from a county committee point of view.”

There is a growing feeling that the views of O’Brien and his more senior players may utimately decide Meath’s stance. After yesterday’s game they were clearly unhappy that a first Leinster title in nine years was cloaked in such controversy, but their immediate reaction also suggested the refixture route was a non-runner.

However, if one does materialise, there is the enticing possibility of a doubleheader next Saturday also involving the SFC qualifier between Dublin and Armagh.

While most focus is now on the possibility of a refixture, both Croke Park and the Gardaí are already investigating the disgraceful post-match scenes, which included physical attacks on the referee by Louth fans, an assault on Meath sub Mark Ward and a steward being struck by a flying bottle.


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