'Totally wrong refereeing decision cost us semi-final place' - Cork County Board launches scathing attack on referee Padraig Hughes
The Cork County Board has released a strongly worded statement which has put the blame of their All-Ireland exit at the hands of referee Padraig Hughes.
Manager Brian Cuthbert decided not to seek a third year in charge after a disappointing defeat to Kildare in the qualifiers, six days after the Rebels were defeated by neighbours Kerry in the Munster Final replay.
Cork could count themselves unfortunate not to claim the local bragging rights the first day out in Killarney as the reigning All-Ireland champions forced a replay at the death thanks to a Fionn Fitzgerald point.
The Cork board have suggested in a statement today that it was the decision made by Armagh referee Padraig Hughes to award the home side a contentious penalty, converted by James O'Donoghue, which cost them a place in the quarter-finals.
"The tremendous performance of the team in the drawn Munster Final has been widely acknowledged, and it is quite probable that but for a totally wrong refereeing decision in that game, Cork would now be in an All-Ireland Semi-Final," the statement read.
"The short turn-around time between the replay, played in exhausting weather conditions, and the qualifier game against Kildare, cannot be ignored as a factor in that defeat."
The Board praised the efforts of Cuthbert and his backroom team despite a number of high-profile heavy defeats.
"Brian made great strides with a largely new-look team playing excellent football, and steered them through two successful Allianz League campaigns which saw them top the league in both years, reaching the semi-final in 2014 and the final in 2015. The 2015 campaign was particularly arduous given that it involved an unprecedented four trips to play Ulster teams away."
"Brian also served as a selector with Conor Counihan, and guided the Cork Minor Footballers to the county’s last Munster title at that level in 2010, going on to reach the All-Ireland Final.
In addition, he has worked extensively with the Rebel Óg Academy development squads over a number of years, including chairing the Committee that established the current structures of the County Under-Age Development Squad system, having consulted widely and obtained opinion and input from professional experts including Dr Liam Hennessy, Dr John Considine, Sean McGrath, MSc - et al, on the requirements for success in modern day sport.
"In all these roles, Brian was acting as an unpaid volunteer, as are all Cork team managers, coaches and selectors. As Senior manager, he left no stone unturned in his efforts to bring success to Cork, despite facing regular, unjustified and personalised abusive criticism from certain elements of the media and which has continued since he has stepped down as manager.
"The Executive would also like to acknowledge the contribution of his selectors Ciarán O'Sullivan, Don Davis, Owen Sexton, Ronan McCarthy, and the training and medical personnel.
"Brian has undertaken these roles with the utmost dignity while at the same time attending to his professional career and family demands as a busy school principal and parent."