Sunday 18 August 2019

Collins recalls pressures of Keaveney's '79 Leinster final dismissal

Four-time All-Ireland football final referee Paddy Collins Picture: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Four-time All-Ireland football final referee Paddy Collins Picture: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Four-time All-Ireland football final referee Paddy Collins has spoken of the pressure he came under over his decision to send off Jimmy Keaveney in the 1979 Leinster final against Offaly.

Collins, widely regarded as one of the game's greatest referees, dismissed Keaveney for elbowing Offaly opponent Ollie Minnock. The 14-man Dubs came back from the dead to complete an unprecedented six-in-a-row in the province, a feat subsequently immortalised in ballad.

But the sending-off fuelled further controversy as it ruled Keaveney ineligible for an All-Ireland final in September which fell inside the eight-week suspension that he was given.

"At that time if a player was reported for a striking offence he would receive an eight-week suspension while a dangerous play offence would merit half of that," recalls Collins in 'From Stars to Saints' - a history of St Loman's GAA club in Mullingar.

Reliable

"Because of the visit of the Pope, the All-Ireland final was brought forward by one week to the third week in September instead of the fourth. It's fair to say that although the telephone system is not as reliable as it is now it was still adequate enough to ensure that I was made aware of the feelings of many people on the issue. Jimmy struck Mr Minnock so he did not play in the final. I would have loved if it could be different because apart from that incident Jimmy was a superb sporting player."

He also recalls some high-profile figures such as RTE Authority chairman PJ Moriarty attending an appeal on behalf of the player to the GAA's Management Committee.

Collins also writes of a trip north to referee an All-Ireland hurling quarter-final in 1972 between Galway and Antrim and the subsequent poignancy attached to it because of the death of Antrim divisional secretary Frank Corr.

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"The travel arrangements meant that I travelled with the Galway team on a bus from Monaghan. Because of the dangerous situation prevailing at the time in Northern Ireland, an officer of the Antrim Board, Frank Corr, divisional secretary of Antrim GAA, whose son played in goals for the Antrim hurlers, joined us on the bus and escorted us to and from the venue.

"The stark reality of those tragic times was brought into focus a few days later when we learned Mr Corr had been shot dead and his body left in the boot of a car."

The book chronicles a history of the club, which was spawned from inside the walls of the asylum from which it takes its name, that has become the dominant force in Westmeath.

Irish Independent

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