McKeever ‘headhunted’ claim nonsense, says GAA

The GAA has emphatically dismissed Ciarán McKeever’s astonishing claim that he has been “headhunted” by match officials.

The Armagh defender recently finished serving a four-week ban for a verbal incident against Louth in March when, in his capacity as team runner (he had been injured), he was sent off after an altercation with Brian White who was attempting to take a free kick.

“The most annoying point for me is, and I am not afraid to say it, in January I knew I was being head hunted,” blasted McKeever.

“An inter-county referee told me the first chance they would get they were going to nail me. That is the sad point.”

Asked who had told him that, McKeever responded: “A top inter-county referee,” before he added: “The first chance that was got I would be nailed. Whether that is with regards to the Laois thing last year I don’t know.”

McKeever refers to last year’s Division 1 game when it was claimed he had received sectarian abuse from a Laois player in Portlaoise before the Armagh County Board later retracted it.

However, GAA national match officials manager Pat Doherty rejected McKeever’s point.

“No player is under any less or more scrutiny than any other. Referees go out to officiate games by the rules.”

National Referees Committee chairman Pat McEnaney stated the claim did not reflect the way his colleagues prepare for games.

“That’s absolute nonsense. No referee ever goes out with that intention,” he responded.

“I give the direction to referees to ref the game in hand not what has happened before or with any player in mind.”

But having seen Dublin’s Kevin O’Brien cleared of a biting allegation last week, McKeever is even more infuriated about the reasons why he was banned.

“I don’t like to see any player getting suspended but it is a sore point,” he said of the O’Brien case. “I was annoyed with the suspension I got and the terms, the way it ended.

“I have still yet to know what I was suspended for. I was suspended for something that was more likely to have happened than not happened and I was told that common sense is not in the rule book.

“I don’t like to see any player get suspended but I think, in my eyes, I was shafted and the proof of the pudding ended up last week that I was right.

“I accepted a hearing and I was told what I was told that you are being suspended on something that is more likely to have happened than not have happened and common sense is not in the rule book.

“I told them what happened in the match, I was shouting ‘watch the posts, watch the posts’ while a Louth player was taking a free-kick and that is what I got four weeks for.”

McKeever is determined to bounce back from what he feels was an injustice.

“You are a marked man every time you go out and play a game of football and that is something that you have to deal with.”

However, McKeever insists he won’t be holding back, starting with the preliminary round opener against Cavan when his suspension will have elapsed.

“I will still go out and play the game I like to play and whatever happens, happens.”

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