The army 'wouldn’t have stopped' early pitch celebration from Roscommon fans

The army 'wouldn’t have stopped' early pitch celebration from Roscommon fans
Enda Smith of Roscommon celebrates with supporters. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Stadium clocks should stop after 35 minutes, according to Connacht Council secretary John Prenty, who believes the premature pitch invasion near the end of Sunday’s Connacht SFC final may have been prevented if supporters were not aware of how much injury-time was remaining.

Referee Barry Cassidy, at the end of regulation time, instructed for an additional seven minutes to be allotted, with the large clock at the clubhouse end of Pearse Stadium reading 42 minutes and 16 seconds when hundreds of Roscommon supporters flooded onto the pitch.

An announcement quickly came over the tannoy that the game was not finished, with patrons eventually clearing the field so as to allow the game resume.

Prenty, who said Connacht Council had sufficient steward numbers on the ground, quipped that the army would not have kept out excited Roscommon fans.

“We felt we had sufficient numbers of stewards. It would have made no difference if you had the army there, you wouldn’t have stopped them. But I think people were looking at the big clock. It was announced there would be seven minutes of injury-time and once you came to 42 minutes on the clock, everyone thought the game was over. That didn’t help matters,” Prenty remarked.

Referee Barry Cassidy, to his credit, didn’t panic. I thought he handled it very well. You could see him gesturing to supporters that the game wasn’t over and so they just ran back off the field.

Prenty admitted that the attendance of 17,639, the lowest for a Connacht final since the 2016 Galway-Roscommon replay at Castlebar, was “very disappointing”. This is the third year-in-a-row the Connacht final crowd has failed to break 19,000.

“The weather had a major factor. There was no walk-up crowd. I would feel that people with tickets might not have come. I was listening to local radio and you’d swear it was the end of the world with what was forecast for 3pm.

"We were expecting 21/22,000. If Galway hadn’t been knocked out of Leinster on Saturday, they might have been more enthusiastic about going back out on Sunday.”

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