Tuesday 22 October 2019

Antrim County Board chairman explains decision to halt semi-final during free-kick shoot-out

Antrim County Board chairman Ciaran McCavana tells Paddy Cunningham not to kick the free
Pic: Jerome Quinn
Antrim County Board chairman Ciaran McCavana tells Paddy Cunningham not to kick the free Pic: Jerome Quinn

Harry Clarke

There were bizarre scenes at last night's Antrim SFC semi-final replay between Lamh Dhearg and Portglenone when the County Board chairman rushed onto the pitch to call a halt to proceedings during a free-kick shoot-out.

Lamh Dhearg's Paddy Cunningham was about to take his free, his side's sixth, when he heard a shout from behind.

"I heard someone in the backround going 'Paddy, Paddy, Paddy wait' and I actually thought it was one of the Portglenone players," Cunningham told Jerome Quinn after the match.

Cunningham turned around to see Antrim County Board chairman Ciaran McCavana who asked him not to take the free as it was too unfair on one of the teams to lose under such circumstances.

"Ciaran summed it up well afterwards. It would be very difficult for any lad from any team to lose a county semi-final over a free kick at that stage. It would have been very unfair on both teams."

McCavana himself posted a video to Twitter explaining his decision.

"I believe it was the right call morally. I'm glad I've done it," he said.

"It might not please everyone, but I have to have the moral courage to look after the players. We have amateur players who are giving their all. They're training for nine months and they don't deserve to lose the county semi-final and the chance to play in the final that way."

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The match ended in a 0-15 to 1-12 draw and Antrim GAA have confirmed all proceeds from the replay will be split between deterMND and Paul McKenever's Cancer Focus and Friends of Cancer Centre.

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