Sunday 18 March 2018

Gilroy and Horan open to refixture at Croker

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The Central Competitions Controls Committee will meet today to decide on a date for the refixture of the Mayo/Dublin Allianz League match which fell victim to a dense fog over McHale Park on Saturday night.

Referee Marty Duffy took the decision to abandon the game prior to the start of the second half when visibility deteriorated sharply during the interval.

Dublin were leading by 0-8 to 0-5 at the break but were facing a second half with just 14 men, after James McCarthy's straight red card for elbowing Alan Freeman as the Mayo forward came in to tackle him.

Duffy had no option but to make the call, from a player and spectator safety point of view.

"Standing in the middle of the field I couldn't see any of the four corners," he said.

An extra five minutes was added to the half-time break to see if the fog would clear before the decision was taken in consultation with rival managers James Horan and Pat Gilroy -- CCCC member John Prenty, the Connacht Council secretary, was also present.

Dublin were staying overnight in Castlebar and Gilroy said they would be prepared to wait on and play the match yesterday afternoon. Horan had no objection to that either. This wasn't deemed feasible, however, and now Dublin face the prospect of another drive west.

Dublin have been a little unfortunate with fixtures in recent years.

Last year they arrived in Mullingar for an O'Byrne Cup game against Westmeath but found that the pitch was frozen, having got the green light to travel earlier in the day.

Four years ago they were in Crossmaglen to play Armagh when torrential rain made St Oliver Plunkett's Park unplayable.

Gilroy said he had no problem with a return journey but wished the match could have gone ahead yesterday. Interestingly, Horan said Mayo would not object to the refixture being played at Croke Park. Neither manager had any issue with the decision to call it off.

Within an hour of the decision the fog had cleared from the McHale Park area, but waiting that long would not have been practical.

"It wouldn't be safe at all to play," said Gilroy. "The lads were complaining at the end of the first half that they weren't able to see the forwards. These things happen, it was the right decision.

"I would have been happy enough to play (on Sunday). It would have done no harm and been good for fitness to test fellas again. They were willing to play it (on Sunday) but it couldn't be so."

The idea of the match being played in Croke Park was one Gilroy obviously warmed to.

"I think it would be great to play it in Croke Park if they were willing to do it. If we have to come back down, we have to come back down and it will be no big deal," he said. "But it would be nice. They would like to get a game in Croke Park in the league, so maybe it can be sorted somewhere along the line. Games come hard and fast now so I'd say it will have to be at the end of the league."

Horan said he "wouldn't mind" Croke Park and would be willing to play the game on a Friday night. Last year the CCCC ruled against a Friday night fixture between the sides.

Another issue the CCCC must decide on is the status of McCarthy's red card. Does it stand after being issued in an abandoned match? CCCC sources have indicated that it will. He faces a one-match ban but Dublin will surely contest this on the grounds that it was not warranted.

The decision appeared to irk Gilroy, who is normally accepting of such decisions when they are right.

"I don't think I have ever seen a guy getting a red card when he had the ball in his hand," he said. "Mayo were tackling us hard and we were tackling them hard. You have a right to protect yourself, in my view. I think that is all he was doing with the ball.

"He was going to get a hard hit and you have a right to protect yourself I believe. I wasn't that side of him so I didn't see it exactly.

"The sending off really disrupted us. We lost our momentum. But it was a lot sharper than it was last week. We were doing things a lot more efficiently than we were last week. So we would be happy enough with that aspect."

McCarthy's dismissal means that Dublin have now had players sent off in their last three matches -- Paul Brogan for two yellows against Kildare and Eamon Fennell against Kerry.

They were also lucky that Diarmuid Connolly wasn't pursued for an incident against Kildare. But in Saturday's instance the decision seemed harsh.

We saw the other side of Connolly with a magnificent first half against Mayo, who led by 0-2 to no score early on, but then succumbed to the Dublin forward's talents and movement.

Connolly whipped over three points as Dublin swept Mayo aside with some wonderful play after that slow start.

In contrast Mayo were wasteful and dropped three shots into Stephen Cluxton's hands in a poor first-half show.

The refixture for this game will be influenced by the Sigerson Cup and inter-provincials over the next two weekends.

"I think they have 11 players involved and we could have eight involved at the (Sigerson) weekend," added Gilroy.

"If all the teams involved get through this week it would be a nonsense for us to play it then as both teams would be down too many players.

"I can't see it being played next weekend as the inter-provincials are on so I'd say it will be pushed back to the end of the league."

Mayo will be heartened by the performance of Barry Moran, who dominated at midfield.

"We were doing a lot of things right but we were killing ourselves up front, hitting it into the goalie's hands, and our first touch was off," said Horan.

"Dublin penalised us every time we did that.

"We dominated midfield if you look at the stats. We can take a lot from the part of the game that was played."

Scorers -- Dublin: D Connolly 0-3, T Quinn 0-2f, P Brogan, K McManamon, S Cluxton (f) 0-1 each. Mayo: C Mortimer (2f), E Varley 0-2 each, C O'Connor (f) 0-1.

Dublin -- S Cluxton; D Daly, R O'Carroll, P McMahon; J McCarthy, G Brennan, C Dias; R McConnell, MD MacAuley; P Brogan, K McManamon, B Cullen; D Connolly, E O'Gara, T Quinn.

Mayo -- D Clarke; K Higgins, K Keane, E Reilly; P Gardiner, D Vaughan, L Keehan; B Moran, A O'Shea; K McLoughlin, C O'Connor, A Dillon; C Mortimer, A Freeman, E Varley. Sub: R Feeney for Gardiner inj (26).

Ref -- M Duffy (Sligo).

Irish Independent

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