Tuesday 21 November 2017

Horgan's punishment did not fit the crime

'I'd call on the GAA to let Horgan play against Kilkenny'

Cork’s Patrick Horgan is shown a straight red card by James McGrath
Cork’s Patrick Horgan is shown a straight red card by James McGrath

John Mullane

I've criticised the Westmeath referee James McGrath recently and I'm going to have to do it again after his decision to send off Patrick Horgan. It had a massive influence on the Munster final, or to be more precise, it ruined the game.

I don't wish to take away from Limerick's performance but McGrath was one of the main reasons why they won the Munster title.

Horgan is not a dirty player and another thing in his favour is that the sun was shining down on him. From what I could gather from people back home and on text messages, it was only a tap. And in the day that was in it, surely a yellow card would have been punishment enough.

The scenes at full-time were incredible though as Limerick fans invaded the pitch. I don't think I've ever witnessed anything like that at a Munster final.

It was fantastic and what makes the GAA so special. Cork did have the Limerick full-back line in a bit of bother for the first 20-25 minutes of the game, but that all changed when Horgan went off.

It was reflected in the performance of Seamus Harnedy, who faded out of the game in the second half.

Horgan's red card sapped the energy out of the Rebels and gave Limerick the push they really needed to go on and win the game. Limerick's subs came on and played their part – just like they did against Tipperary. And I thought Seamus Hickey was outstanding for Limerick. He ran himself into the ground.

It's like Limerick are playing the game in three different sections.

They'll keep it tight for the first 20-25 minutes, drop back their two wing-forwards and use Declan Hannon as a second centre-forward. Try to stay in the game then up to half-time, knowing that they can unload the bench with the four or five lads to come on.

Cork will test Kilkenny but common sense has to prevail and I'd call on the GAA to let Horgan play. It's surely only fair that he's cleared to line out because the punishment clearly didn't fit the crime. Cork have missed out on a Munster title and surely that's enough. It's time for some leeway from the powers-that-be because if Horgan was available, Cork would have a decent chance of beating Kilkenny. As things stand, he's not available and that's a massive setback for Cork's hopes.

As for Limerick, they go marching on and you'd have got long odds on them winning the Munster final. With Dublin prevailing in Leinster, what a summer.

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