Sunday 21 January 2018

Mickey Ned blasts ref's 'poor' call as Cork edge Limerick

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

LIMERICK manager Mickey Ned O'Sullivan has called for action from the GAA to ensure referees make the right decision in game-changing incidents.

O'Sullivan couldn't hide the frustration he felt at Limerick being denied a fourth-minute penalty by Armagh referee Padraig Hughes.

Limerick were a point up when John Galvin was tumbled close to the Cork goal. It looked a clear penalty, but the ref awarded a free out for over-carrying.

Hughes later gave Limerick a last-minute penalty when Galvin was shoved by Cork's Alan O'Connor in the dying moments of the match, but we'll never know how the fourth-minute incident might have changed the game.

"We're disappointed. The better team won on the day. We don't have any grudges about Cork, but we do feel that the GAA will have to get the decision-makers making right decisions," O'Sullivan said. "I don't have a persecution complex, but this is the third year in a row that poor decision making has cost us a game. That's the reality."

Emotions ran high after passion, fire and fury in an absorbing extra-time period brought saturday night fever to the Gaelic Grounds just when the music seemed to have died for Limerick.

A hard-fought, but turgid game of football was ebbing towards the inevitable conclusion of mission accomplished for favourites Cork. The Rebels, leading by five points with four minutes of normal time left, had just about shaken off O'Sullivan's try-hards -- when suddenly the Limerick side turned into real die-hards.

Biff! It's the 69th minute, Limerick are throwing everything they can at Cork in a last-ditch, seemingly hopeless effort, and Ger Collins scores a point from an awkward angle.

Bang! There's three minutes of time added on for injuries and in the 71st minute Cork's Alan O'Connor has a rush of blood to the head when he barges Galvin in the back as a high ball drops into the Rebels danger area.

It's a penalty. A sensational penalty -- and up steps Collins to blast the ball low and hard into the net.

Wallop! Goalie Alan Quirke commits hara-kiri with less than 60 seconds left. His kick-out could go anywhere. Row Z would be ideal compared to where the ball lands -- into Galvin's hands.

Galvin races forward and just as he's being tackled gets the ball out to sub Conor Fitzgerald, who slots it over.

Level match! A few brief flurries, and ref Padraig Hughes blows the whistle signalling 20 minutes of extra-time.

Mistakes

And then it became a case of which side could keep the mistakes to a minimum, because, for a while in the first period of extra-time, it was a game nobody seemed to want to win.

Daniel Goulding, Cork's leading scorer with 0-7 on the night, missed two good chances, one from a free in the first six minutes. Then Limerick's top scorer, Collins, fired wide a minute later.

Time for someone to step up, and Cork's Donnacha O'Connor duly obliged, with a deadlock-breaking point after 79 minutes. Once he tapped the ball over the bar again from a free in the 81st minute, Cork had gained some vital breathing space.

As for the second period of extra-time, all that needs to be said is that Limerick died with their boots on, fighting to the last breath in vain.

And then the inquests. Cork manager Conor Counihan had this message for his troops at the end of normal time.

"I felt we were the better team for the 70 minutes and we were dominating in the second half, so I said 'lads, you've proven it for 70, let's take this 10 minutes at a time and I've no doubt we're capable of grinding this out.'"

Counihan was right, but reel it back to the early part of the game and Limerick will feel it could all have been so different. The home side started fast and better than Cork and Collins opened the scoring with a first-minute point.

Three minutes later came the Galvin penalty controversy, and two minutes later, Collins added a second point.

But between that and his next score from a free after 14 minutes, the woodwork twice denied the home team, with a Seanie Buckley goal-bound shot hitting the crossbar and Ian Ryan's attempt for a point hitting an upright.

Cork were struggling to get a grip on the game at that stage and when they did get sight of goal, they missed the target until Derek Kavanagh got their first score almost immediately after Ryan's rebound at the other end. By half-time the teams were level at 0-5 each.

The second half was a war of attrition as Cork finally got a grip on midfield. Aidan Walsh nicked a point just after the interval and Goulding (four, three from frees), Ciaran Sheehan and Alan O'Connor pointed in 30 minutes to bring Cork to 0-12 by the 66th minute.

Limerick's only scorers in that period were from Stephen Lavin and James Ryan. Not enough, but then came the epic last few minutes of normal time.

Referee Hughes showed the yellow card 17 times, including twice to Stephen Lavin -- who was sent off in the last minute of extra-time -- which illustrated the often untidy and grinding nature of the match in normal time.

Scorers -- Cork: D Goulding 0-7 (0-5f), C O'Neill, D O'Connor (0-1f) 0-2 each, A Walsh, D Kavanagh, C Sheehan, A O'Connor, P Kelly 0-1 each. Limerick: G Collins 1-4 (1-0 pen, 0-2f), S Lavin 0-2, S Kelly, J Ryan, B Scanlon (0-1f), I Ryan (0-1f), C Fitzgerald 0-1 each.

Cork -- A Quirke 7; R Carey 7, M Shields 7, J O'Sullivan 7; N O'Leary 7, G Canty 7, P Kissane 7; D Kavanagh 8, A Walsh 7; P Kerrigan 7, P O'Neill 7, P Kelly 7; D Goulding 8, C Sheehan 7, C O'Neill 7. Subs: N Murphy 6 for A Walsh (49), D O'Connor 6 for P Kerrigan (49), A O'Connor 6 for D Kavanagh (58), F Goold for P Kelly (70), P Kelly for F Goold (71), E Cotter 6 for M Shields (75), P Kerrigan for C Sheehan (87), F Goold for A O'Connor (91).

Limerick -- B Scanlon 7; M O'Riordan 7, J McCarthy 7, A Lane 7 S Lavin 7, S Lucey 7, P Ranahan 7; J O'Donovan 7, J Galvin 7; P Browne 7, J Ryan 7, S Buckley 7; G Collins 7, I Ryan 7, S Kelly 7. Subs: C Mullane 6 for M O'Riordan (41), E Joy 6 for P Browne (43), C Fitzgerald 7 for S Buckley (51), S Gallagher 6 for S Lucey (62), E O'Connor 6 for I Ryan (66), P Browne 6 for P Ranahan (70), S Buckley for E Joy (74), I Ryan for E O'Connor (80), J Mullane 6 for G Collins (83).

Ref -- P Hughes (Armagh).

Irish Independent

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