Sunday 19 January 2020

McKeever controversy overshadows Laois success

Laois 1-15
Armagh 1-10

Ciaran McKeever is escorted from the pitch by Armagh assistant manager Paul Grimley
Ciaran McKeever is escorted from the pitch by Armagh assistant manager Paul Grimley

A controversial red card for Armagh centre-back Ciaran McKeever overshadowed Laois' second league win of the year, with Armagh players, management and supporters confronting referee Michael Duffy at the final whistle in O'Moore Park.

McKeever's dismissal came about in bizarre circumstances, as he was shown a straight red card before play had resumed for the second half, reportedly for an incident that happened in the tunnel at half-time.

McKeever initially refused to leave the field, as he stood in the centre-back position before he was eventually ushered off the field to a standing ovation from the majority of the Armagh supporters in Portlaoise.

There was further drama at the final whistle, as Armagh selector Paul Grimley tried to confront Duffy on the field -- as did a number of players -- while the Sligo official had to run a gauntlet of abuse from disgruntled Armagh fans who lined the tunnel to meet him as he left the field.

The red card, and the fallout from it, took from what was a crucial victory for Laois, who came into the game on the back of two defeats to Dublin and Cork.


They were slow to get going, with Armagh hitting the front early on through points from Brian Mallon (free) and Aidan Forker, but Laois eventually found their stride and led by 0-7 to 0-3 at half-time.

The start of the second half was disrupted by McKeever's dismissal, but Laois took advantage of their extra man to open up an eight-point lead, 0-12 to 0-4.

Armagh launched a spirited comeback, with a goal from Caolan Rafferty helping them whittle the lead down to two points with 10 minutes to go.

They couldn't keep it up though, and some hesitant defending from Armagh in their own penalty area allowed Brendan Quigley's high ball to bounce into the hands of Paul Cahillane. He tucked the ball into the back of the net to help Laois to a second win of the campaign.

Man of the Match: Eoin Culliton (Laois)

SCORERS -- Laois: P Cahillane 1-1, C Begley, MJ Tierney (2f) 0-3 each, R Munnelly 0-2, K Meaney, M Timmons, B Sheehan, D Strong, D O'Connor, C Kelly (f) 0-1 each. Armagh: C Rafferty 1-1, B Mallon (2f), A Forker (1f) 0-2 each, A Duffy, G McParland, M O'Rourke (f), J Kingham, J Lavery 0-1 each.

LAOIS -- E Culliton 8; C Healy 7, K Lillis 7, P O'Leary 6; K Meaney 7, M Timmons 6, C Boyle 6; J O'Loughlin 6, B Quigley 7; C Begley 7, B Sheehan 6, D Strong 6; MJ Tierney 6, A Kelly 5, R Munnelly 6. Subs: P Cahillane 6 for Kelly (h-t), D O'Connor 6 for Tierney (56), J Kavanagh for Sheehan (68), C Kelly for O'Loughlin (70)

ARMAGH -- P McEvoy 6; F Moriarty 7, D McKenna 7, A Mallon 6; K Dyas 6, C McKeever 5, P Duffy 6; BJ Padden 6, P Carragher 6; A Forker 6, C Watters 6, A Duffy 6; G McParland 6, B Mallon 6, C Rafferty 7. Subs: J Lavery 6 for Carragher (25), C Vernon 6 for Padden (40), M O'Rourke 6 for McParland (40), J Kingham 7 for Forker (50), R Rafferty 6 for Watters (63).

Ref -- M Duffy (Sligo).

Irish Independent

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