'It's hard to argue with Gough's decision' - Ciarán Whelan rows back on criticism of referee after Cooper red card
Ciarán Whelan has rowed back on his position regarding Jonny Cooper’s red card in yesterday’s pulsating All-Ireland final and conceded that referee David Gough got the call right.
The red card just before half-time was the major talking point of the first half and came at a time when Dublin were starting to take control of the final, having gone four points clear.
Having to play with 14 men for half the game eventually took its toll on the holders as Kerry overhauled then to take a one-point lead into stoppage time before Dean Rock’s equaliser set up Saturday week's replay.
Whelan labelled the decision "disgraceful" on The Sunday Game panel during RTE’s live coverage of the match and was adamant at half-time that Cooper shouldn’t have received his marching orders as the challenge wasn’t even a foul.
The ex-Dublin star doubled down on that position in his column in today's Herald, stating that he "thought that the decision was a poor one" and also "thought that the second yellow card shown to Jonny Cooper was harsh in the extreme."
However, as the dust settled on yesterday’s game, Whelan told today's The Throw-In, Independent.ie’s GAA podcast in association with Bord Gais Energy, that he has had a change of heart having reviewed the footage again.
"When Clifford went out for the ball he used his body as any good forward does to push Cooper out. I thought Cooper had made a genuine effort to get his hand in to try and block the ball," Whelan explained.
"But when you look back on it this morning and look at the replays, as Cooper is going down he does pull Clifford down with him so it's hard to argue with Gough's decision.
"I thought from Jonny Cooper’s perspective, for his game to finish based on what I thought were three relatively mild enough fouls but I suppose Gough was technically right."
Whelan added that Jim Gavin and his team need to learn from the decision, despite that fact that the replay will be officiated by a different ref in Conor Lane.
Dublin have plenty of previous experience in deciders with the Cork official, who refereed last year’s final and the 2016 drawn game between Dublin and Mayo.
"There’s also a lesson in it for Dublin. We see Gough has been very harsh on people grappling off the ball and it’s something Dublin should have been tuned into in terms of the penalty but other referees would let a lot of that go," he added.
"You look back over the years and the likes of Aidan O’Shea and Kieran Donaghy would have had multiple penalties if they were being given for grappling off the ball.
"But that’s the way Gough is, he picks up on things like that and like anything in preparation for the game you have to be ready for it.
"They were three mild enough fouls by Jonny but looking back on it he did pull him down so I don't think you can argue with it."