Clare co-manager Gerry O’Connor doubts that Tony Kelly’s red card last Saturday week would be shown in the Championship.
Disappointed that Kelly wasn’t given a reprieve by the Central Hearings Committee on Thursday, O’Connor maintains the 2013 Hurler of the Year was unfortunate to be dismissed for the challenge on Tipperary’s Pádraic Maher and in turn suffer a one-match ban, that ruled him out of yesterday’s win over Kilkenny.
“We’ve looked back at the video several times. It didn’t look like a red to me. I’ll be amazed if the same red card was given in three months’ time when we start into the Munster championship.” said O’Connor, who wonders if a precedent has now been set.
“You’d obviously ask yourself will the same level of scrutiny be applied to the tackles as the year progresses.”
Kelly attended the CHC meeting with selector Jimmy Browne. O’Connor explained why they didn’t seek a further meeting with the Central Appeals Committee: “Once Tony was sent off, we started planning without him because that’s the way you have to… because the hearing wasn’t until Thursday night. We do all of our work on Monday and Tuesday night, so Tony was out of our decision-making in terms of how he could impact on the performance.”
O’Connor didn’t want to put blame on referee Colm Lyons for sending off Kelly. “The referees are probably implementing the directive that they get from Croke Park so it’s very hard to be too harsh on the officials. I don’t think there are that many head-high challenges in hurling anyway.”
Yesterday’s win over Kilkenny was the fourth time O’Connor and Donal Moloney have turned over Brian Cody’s team, but O’Connor was happier the county extended their winning run at home to almost two years.
“What you’ll notice in the National League, you’ve a huge advantage playing at home. There is no real science behind it. For whatever reason, we always appear to play well here in the Park.
“We would consider it our fortress. We would have focused on that all week. We lost no game in the league last year; we lost no game in the Championship last year.”