No prizes for guessing where most of this column’s focus is on after this weekend. Nowlan Park was the stage for one of the most unusual moments I’ve seen in a game and it’s no surprise it has most of the country talking.
The Kilkenny crowd were up in arms when Dublin maor foirne Greg Kennedy intercepted TJ Reid’s quickly-taken free.
Strip away the emotional reaction to it and there was plenty from Brian Cody on the sideline but Kennedy shouldn’t have been where he was.
He was quick to react to the danger and it was his instinct to stop Kilkenny from catching Dublin unawares, which likely would have led to a goal opportunity. Cathal McAllister mightn’t have blown his whistle but Greg was in the wrong.
He will do well now to avoid a punishment because this is exactly the type of incident Croke Park have been waiting for.
This is the perfect opportunity for them to now crack down on the number of team officials on the sideline. Over time, we have seen the zonal areas and seats being introduced and what happened on Saturday evening will give the powers-that-be a prime reason to take even more action.
As far as the refereeing of the game was concerned, there were major errors over the 70 plus minutes. Liam Rushe was lucky to win the first penalty because it didn’t appear he was fouled.
For Kilkenny’s in the second half, which was also questionable, Colin Fennelly wasn’t afforded the full advantage and in that regard it’s just as well that TJ Reid scored the penalty.
Also, Adrian Mullen was awarded a point by one of his umpires but that effort was wide. When McAllister looks back he might feel the performance by him and his team was a shade disappointing.
The flashpoint between Walter Walsh and Chris Crummey was an embarrassing one for both players but especially the latter who dived. Walsh did confront him and his head did go forward but it was obvious that Crummey made a meal of it. I saw a similar incident in the Meath-Offaly game yesterday and it’s clear that not enough is being done to stamp out feigning injury even though it’s a yellow card offence.
In Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday, Seán Cleere was having a fine game for 50-60 minutes but then a few things went against him and, as it so happened, it affected Cork. Pádraic Maher was not booked for a deliberate trip, Patrick Horgan was blown for over-carrying when he was actually fouled and he was later punished for what seemed like charging.
In the 67th minute, Darragh Fitzgibbon was tripped and no free was given and when a 65 call went against Cork late on it was no surprise that Anthony Nash made his feelings known for which he was yellow-carded.
Cleere is one of the fittest referees in the game but I wonder if fatigue set in during those closing stages. As I should know, the knock on the head earlier in the game mightn’t have helped either but I would question his positioning.
He doesn’t need to be as close to the boundary lines as he puts himself in. If he could imagine the pitch being 10m tighter he would do far better.
In Walsh Park, there weren’t too many talking points about James Owens’ refereeing. The sideline call against Waterford in the dying moments was unfortunate but it would be a stretch to say it defined the game.
Colum Cunning refereed Offaly-Laois on Saturday evening and his performance was a mixed bag. He made some good decisions but missed a blatant penalty for Oisín Kelly in the opening minutes.
Offaly’s Cillian Kiely was lucky not to be sent off for a wild lash. Pádraig Delaney hit out at Colin Egan and yet there was no free. A Laois goal should also have been ruled out for a foul in the build-up.
It was a big game for Cunning but he has to improve if he wants to progress. I was also at Meath and Offaly’s game in Páirc Tailteann yesterday and Martin McNally made a couple of odd decisions but overall he could be happy with his display.