Brian Gavin: Offaly's sense of grievance is justified

I won’t deny this is one of the most difficult columns I’ve had to put together since I began with the Irish Examiner in 2018
Brian Gavin: Offaly's sense of grievance is justified

LAST MINUTE: Tipperary’s Paddy McCormack flicks the ball into the net in injury time. Pic: ©INPHO/Ken Sutton

I won’t deny this is one of the most difficult columns I’ve had to put together since I began with the Irish Examiner in 2018.

For Offaly’s minor hurlers to lose yesterday’s All-Ireland final in the manner they did was utterly heartbreaking. What a group of young men they are and I hope and pray their futures are as bright as the days they have given us supporters this summer.

I will be accused of wearing the green, white and gold sunglasses but having watched back the couple of incidents Offaly’s sense of grievance is justified. 

Referee Shane Hynes is a fine fella who I got to know well heading to Dublin together to referee seminars from our collection point in Kilbeggan. He has been tipping away at Joe McDonagh Cup and under-age level but when this game was in the melting pot in Nowlan Park he came under huge pressure.

If Tipperary had reason to fault him in the first half, Offaly had it in the second. Not that the lack of a penalty was his responsibility. Tipperary’s red card was the right call but you must wonder about the rulebook when throwing a hurl at Cathal Robinson and denying what was most surely a clear goalscoring opportunity didn’t also result in a penalty. That must be reflected in an updated version of the rule next year.

Shane’s decision not to give Niall Furlong a free just before Tipperary were awarded one, which led to Paddy McCormack’s winning goal, was a sickener for all Offaly people. 

Furlong wins that deserved free out and I’ve no doubt in my mind Offaly would be All-Ireland champions. If Shane was looking at the foul from a different angle, his call would be understandable but he was standing right beside it.

I was delighted that Shane got the appointment but he would have to be disappointed with how it went and the scenes at the end as he required security from being jostled and pushed was not what anyone wanted to see.

Matters in Croke Park over the weekend weren’t as controversial, thankfully. The GAA delayed named the referees for the games, perhaps trying to ensure Thomas Walsh didn’t get too jittery on his biggest day yet.

It was a major call to give him the game and he deserved more notice but I thought he came through it with flying colours and the gamble worked for the GAA. 

The bookings were on the money, Darren Morrissey could only have been shown a yellow for the foul on Graeme Mulcahy as it wasn’t close enough to goal or clear enough of a chance for goal for a black card.

Thomas was strong on overcarrying and thrown passes, which can be unpopular decisions, but he didn’t mind that. Henry Shefflin did have reason to be annoyed with a couple of calls, although one of them was a lineball decision by James Owens, but in the context of the game Thomas wasn’t giving the frees Shefflin was looking for. 

There have been some suggestions of a stamp on Tom Monaghan by Kyle Hayes but I can’t say it looked deliberate.

Fergal Horgan was the man in the middle on Saturday evening and was typically giving players enough licence to be physical without overdoing it. He booked Conor Browne for interfering with Shane O’Donnell’s helmet and later yellowed Ryan Taylor for an infringement on Browne. TJ Reid was rightly carded for a late slap although Fergal was too quick to whistle him for catching the ball when he touched it to his hurl.

I’m repeating myself when I say Fergal and John Keenan’s brand of refereeing is what a lot of people like to see but I’m not sure John is ahead of Fergal in being appointed to Sunday week’s final after what happened in the Munster final. 

That is a pity for him and it would appear Colm Lyons is in the reckoning for the Kilkenny-Limerick game too. I’d have called for Colm to get the big one a couple of years ago when he was reffing really well. He might not have the same confidence now but if he gets the nod, it will be deserved for his career as a whole.

Finally, it was good to see Armagh take their medicine on Friday even if the process to propose suspensions and fines to them and Galway went on far too long. If Seán Kelly could have a hearing as quickly as two nights after he was given a suspension, it shouldn’t have to take four days for the retrospective penalties to be handed out.

Six months still seems on the lenient side for an eye gouging offence, and I would like to see it lengthened at Congress. Clearly, the Central Competitions Controls Committee had to go by the book but it has to be 12 months minimum if you truly want to stamp out these incidents.

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