Sunday 17 December 2017

Meath unlikely to fulfil Christy Ring replay after scoring fiasco

Meath ? Antrim ? (Meath were registered as 2-18 to 1-20 winners on the scoreboard)

James Toher and his Meath team-mates celebrate with the cup after the Christy Ring final whether they get to hold onto the trophy remains to be seen. Photo: Sportsfile
James Toher and his Meath team-mates celebrate with the cup after the Christy Ring final whether they get to hold onto the trophy remains to be seen. Photo: Sportsfile
Eoghan Campbell of Antrim is visibly disappointed after the game. Photo: Sportsfile
Seán Quigley of Meath is lifted by jubilant team-mates. Photo: Sportsfile

Colm Keys and David Mohan

Meath are unlikely to take part in a Christy Ring Cup final rematch with Antrim, if and when the GAA's Central Competitions Control Committee rule that one should take place after their meeting tomorrow.

It follows the controversial final on Saturday which Meath believed they won on a scoreline of 2-18 to 1-20 but which, it has now emerged, was a draw, 2-17 to 1-20, after referee John O'Brien accepted he counted up Meath's score wrong.

A meeting of the CCCC will discuss the fall-out from the second tier final which Meath 'won' with a storming second half comeback. With the referee acknowledging a miscalculation that will leave no option but for CCCC to order a rematch.

Rule 6.42 states that the award of a game rests with the committee in charge acting on a referee's report.

But the indications are that Meath will not play the replay. With a number of players heading for the US in the coming days there is no appetite for a rematch with Antrim.

The Royals celebrated their first ever success in the competition by visiting a number of 'hurling' strongholds in the south and west of the county last night despite the controversy.

The prize for the Christy Ring Cup winners is a place in the Leinster Championship round robin. The issue seemed to be centred on a Niall McKenna score for Antrim in the 63rd minute that put the Saffrons into a 1-20 to 1-15 lead, but the scoreboard operator seemed to mistakenly give the point to Meath as it read 1-19 to 1-16 on the big screens.

An Adam Gannon point at the other end narrowed the gap to four, but according to the board it was just two when members of the press noticed the error.

Moments later, Antrim's tally moved on to 1-20, but the extra point wasn't taken off Meath's total and eventually led to much head scratching as the Royals completed a magnificent comeback.

Antrim officials were handed a copy of the DVD by broadcasters TG4 after the game and will review the footage. However, it shouldn't have come to this for Antrim, who led by nine points on 27 minutes and looked on course for victory.

Conor Johnston banged home a 15th minute goal after being set up by Ciaran Clarke with the pair along with James Connolly, Eoghan Campbell, Niall McKenna and Eddie McCloskey all raising flags as Meath relied on three James Toher frees to stay in touch.

However, Antrim began to lose their way in the closing stages of the half and were only 1-10 to 0-7 ahead at the break. Despite Antrim's lead, there was a sense Meath were well in this game.

That hope became belief on 41 minutes when a stray Odhran McFadden hand-pass was picked up by Neil Heffernan and buried into the net. Antrim moved 1-18 to 1-12 clear by 55 minutes but still Meath refused to wilt and they hit three of the next four points to stay in touch. McKenna hit that point to leave five (or so we thought) in it, but they failed to take some good chances late on to end it once and for all.

Meath sensed they had a chance and on 70 minutes Sean Quigley rattled the net before he then pointed in injury-time for what some thought was the equaliser. Meath celebrated wildly while Antrim looked bewildered.

Scorers - Meath: J Toher 0-5(frees); S Quigley, N Heffernan 1-1 each; A Gannon, J Keena 0-3 each; K Keoghan 0-2; S Heavey, K Keena 0-1 each Antrim: C Johnston 1-2; C Clarke 0-5 (2 frees, 1 65); J Connolly 0-4; N McKenna, E McCloskey 0-3 each; C McKinley, E Campbell, J Dillon 0-1 each
Meath - S McCann, S Geraghty, D Donoghue, R Sherlock, S Brennan, D Healy, K Keoghan, S Heavey, S Morris, J Toher, J Keena, A Gannon, G McGowan, N Heffernan, S Clynch Subs: K Keena for Clynch (52), S Whitty for McGowan (55), S Quigley for Heffernan (64)
Antrim - C O'Connell, S McCrory, T McCloskey, M Burke, O McFadden, NcAuley, C McKinley, E Campbell, N McKenna, E McCloskey, C Carson (c), J Connolly, C Johnston, J Dillon, C Clarke Subs: P Burke for M Burke inj (8), F Donnelly for McFadden (62),
Ref - J O'Brien (Tipperary)

Irish Independent

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