Wednesday 17 January 2018

Owens slams ref U-turn as Limerick secure Model date


John Fallon

WATERFORD manager John Owens is convinced they should have been awarded a first-half penalty which could have changed the course of this qualifier at the Limerick Gaelic Grounds.

Referee Cormac Reilly initially signalled a penalty after Paul Whyte went to ground, having been challenged by Tommy Stack, but the Meath official then changed his mind after consulting his umpires.

It was a big call by Reilly, who controversially awarded Dublin a last-gasp match-winning free in the Leinster semi-final, but it seemed to be the correct decision as the Waterford attacker appeared to slip before harmlessly kicking the ball wide.

At the time, Limerick, playing against the wind, led by 0-4 to 0-3, but went on to shoot the next four points as Waterford heads dropped.

And Waterford had further cause to be angry with the official when Gary Hurney was red-carded for an off-the-ball incident in the second-half, with referee Reilly again consulting his umpires before making the call.

"Those decisions did make a significant difference to the game," said Owens. "They are a good team and deserve their qualifier win, but we thought there was something there for us all through the second half.

"From where I was, definitely, it was a penalty. And whatever happened Gary didn't deserve a straight red. He had been treated rather harshly at other times when he didn't get the rub of the green from the umpires. But that is it, the game is over now."

Limerick boss Maurice Horan praised the referee for changing his mind after consulting his umpires.

"We were on ground level and I honestly couldn't see the penalty decision. I genuinely don't know. But it must have been close. The referee gave it and you don't see it too often -- a referee after calling it going in to talk to his umpires," said Horan.

"He possibly said to himself that it wasn't a penalty after all, but it was probably a bit frustrating for the Waterford management team and the players but fair play to him. We have seen referees make mistakes in the past. If it wasn't a penalty well then fair play to him."

He has now seen his men stitch together two qualifier victories after the debacle against Kerry but he feels they still have a lot to do to oust Wexford next weekend.

"It wasn't a very convincing performance and none of us will be getting too carried away. The look on the lads' faces was relief more than anything else.

"We knew it was going to be a tough battle. We were more nervous about this game than the previous game. We had something to prove in the Offaly game," added Horan.

Ian Ryan, who scored 1-7 from play against Offaly, was held scoreless on Saturday evening but Stephen Kelly stepped up to the mark in impressive fashion.

He kicked seven points, four of them from play, and was involved in most good things that came from a Limerick side who faltered either side of half-time.

Waterford heads dropped after the penalty decision and Limerick proceeded to open up a lead of 0-8 to 0-3 after 27 minutes with a string of unanswered points.

Waterford rallied before the break to score three points from Patrick Hurney, Brian Wall and Whyte to reduce the deficit to 0-9 to 0-7 at the break. And they drew level five minutes after the restart when Patrick Hurney and Whyte found their range.

However, they were given a mountain to climb when Gary Hurney was dismissed for an off-the-ball incident with Tom Lee after 60 minutes.

At that stage two points from Kelly had edged Limerick back in front and they pushed on from there when Ger Collins pointed a free with five minutes remaining to leave a goal between them.

And with their excellent defence shutting out anything Waterford could muster, the home side prevailed.

They sealed a deserved success in the closing minutes as Kelly brought his haul to seven and substitute John Cooke also hit the target to set up a clash with Wexford.

Scorers -- Limerick: S Kelly 0-7 (3fs), J Mullane, S O'Carroll, G Collins ( 1f) 0-2 each, J Cooke 0-1. Waterford: P Whyte 0-4 (2f, 1 '45'), P Hurney 0-2, G Hurney, S Fleming, B Wall 0-1f each.

Limerick -- B Scanlon 7; J McCarthy 6, T Stack 6, S Gallagher 7; M Sheehan 7, J Riordan 7, P Ranahan 7; S Buckley 8, T Lee 7; J Mullane 6, S Kelly 9, S Lavin 7; G Collins 7, S O'Carroll 7, I Ryan 6. Subs: B Fitzpatrick 6 for Stack (24), J Cooke 7 for Sheehan (46), E O'Connor 6 for Mullane (56), E Hogan 6 for O'Carroll (68), P Kinnerk 6 for Lee (72).

Waterford -- K Cotter 6; T O'Gorman 7, C Phelan 7, M O'Gorman 6; W Hennessy 6, K Connery 6, T Grey 6; M Aherne 6, S Dempsey 6; C O'Keeffe 7, S Fleming 6, B Wall 6; P Hurney 7, G Hurney 5, P Whyte 7. Subs: B Phelan 6 for Dempsey (31), C McGrath 6 for Wall (h-t), T Connors 6 for P Hurney (62), JJ Hutchinson 6 for Fleming (72).

Ref -- C Reilly (Meath).

Irish Independent

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