Canning: Pressure is now on ref Kelly

Former Galway captain Ollie Canning suggests Brian Cody has attempted to put All-Ireland final referee Barry Kelly under “a bit of pressure”.

However, GAA Director General Páraic Duffy believes the Kilkenny manager’s remarks at the team’s press evening were not intended to influence the Westmeath match official on Sunday week.

Cody expressed concerns Kelly could be swayed to lay down the law after a number of incidents went unpunished in Kilkenny’s All-Ireland semi-final win over Tipperary.

Cody said: “I think there could be a stupid reaction now. The last three All-Ireland finals were played and the game was let flow. They were outstanding games. Suddenly, there could be this crazy reaction to a couple of instances from last Sunday which should have been dealt with last Sunday, not in two weeks’ time. And suddenly: yellow card, red card for nothing.”

Canning says: “I don’t know, maybe Brian is putting Barry under a bit of pressure coming into the game. The Kilkenny-Tipp game was a goodphysical game. Brian Cody is around for a long time, he has a lot ofexperience of All-Ireland final days. Kilkenny are going to be saying all of the right things coming up to the match, as hopefully Galway will.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to the 70 minutes and on September 9 I don’t know how many people are going to think aboutcomments that were made two or three weeks prior to the game.”

Duffy is assured Cody’s comments weren’t determined to put more of an onus on the whistleblower. “I’m sure that wasn’t Brian Cody’s intention. I have absolute confidence Barry Kelly is a very good appointment and he will do a very good job. I’m sure he’s experienced enough. It’s not his first final. I’m sure he’ll leave all that extraneous stuffoutside and I don’t think it will affect how hereferees the game.”

Eddie Brennan backed up Duffy’s confidence in Kelly’s strength ofcharacter. “Shouting and roaring will do nothing and Barry Kelly will tell you to shut up quick enough. Barry is a good man for the job — he’s experienced and he understands the game. It’s differentiating between a genuine attempt to tackle and something cynical.

“Players know when they are wrong and the referee isn’t going to change his mind so just go with the flow. If the ref is refereeing a certain way then you know what you can and can’t do.”

In the wake of Cody’s outrage at suggestions Kilkenny contributed to incidents that went beyond theacceptable physicality last Sunday week, Brennan believes Kilkenny play in a positive physical way.

“For me there is stupid physicality which is not part of hurling and then there’s using it in the right way. I’d see them as physically competitive rather than overpowering or stupid. You only have to look at the Kilkenny record over the years, they have very few red cards and even yellow cards.”

Even though he retired last year, the Graigue-Ballycallan man admitted the win over Tipperary was a satisfying one for him. “Where I’m from, we’re on the border and it extends from Johnstown down to south Kilkenny. There’s good banter there and, to use Alex Ferguson’s words, it keeps the ‘noisy neighbours’ quiet for a while.”

Meanwhile, Duffy expressed delight at Donegal last Sunday bridging the gap to their last appearance in an All-Ireland SFC final.

“No disrespect to Cork, Kerry, Galway or Meath, in any sport people like to see a new team coming through and the way this team has come and transformed itself from the initial view of them as being overly negative, that has changed now and they are actually a very exciting team to watch.

“It just shows you what can be done and great credit to Jimmy McGuinness for that.”

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