Defender Brian Mulligan and captain Brian McCormack were both dismissed for Portlaoise, but it was referee Michael Duffy’s decision to send off Mulligan for a high tackle on Kilmurry-Ibrickane’s Shane Hickey after only 40 seconds of action that sparked major controversy.
Gardaí and match stewards had to escort the Sligo whistler off the pitch both at half-time and full-time. Duffy was confronted by several Portlaoise officials at the interval, with one of his linesmen appearing to be jostled during that incident, and a Portlaoise supporter had to be forcefully restrained by Gardaí after the game as he approached Duffy. Portlaoise team boss John Mulligan, father of Brian, vented his fury with the referee at the break and afterwards branded the first minute sending-off as ‘a joke’.
“I thought it was a joke. If the man has a conscience, he won’t sleep for a long time. I don’t want to sound a bad loser but it was an absolute joke of a refereeing decision. The man seemed to be out to make a name for himself. He caught him a bit high, it was definitely a free but a yellow would have sufficed. There is no such thing as consistency. One of their players came in as a sub, hopped off one of our lads and the referee did nothing. I asked him about it at half-time and he wasn’t going to entertain me.”
However, Kilmurry-Ibrickane boss Michéal McDermott believed the referee had made the right call in sending Mulligan off. “The referee made a call on the dangerous tackle early on and if that happens, you’ve to go off for it. I thought he did a good job today and it was sad to see the scenes on the field there with the referee.”