Lilywhites very lucky to escape the black plague

Another weekend, another collection of black card queries.

I was surprised Rory Hickey didn’t show one to Kildare’s Niall Kelly in the 19th minute of yesterday’s Leinster semi-final for a foul on Damien Carroll.

Likewise, Mark Donnellan was fortunate to remain on the pitch after what appeared to be a deliberate trip on Dalton McDonagh. Meath were awarded a penalty but such an offence is worthy of an automatic substitution.

In the second game, Ciarán Branagan elected not to show one to Paddy Byrne for what appeared to be a clear-cut example of a black card offence in the 26th minute. He also allowed Paul Flynn hop the ball twice in the previous play. Branagan’s decision to show Conor Carthy a black card was correct, though.

In Clones on Saturday, Kyle Carragher was a little unfortunate to be shown a first-half black card. I felt it wasn’t a deliberate body collide with Dermot Malone; that the Monaghan player had in fact changed direction and ran at the Armagh player.

On Sky Sports, former Dublin player Senan Connell said it was a textbook black card. I would have to disagree, just as I would with the suggestion Conor McManus’s one was an obvious one for a body collide. The replays don’t confirm one way or the other whether Joe McQuillan made the right call in sending him to the line.

Darren Hughes, a player already with two black cards to his name this season, could easily have picked up a third — and therefore a one-game ban — for a pull down on Eugene McVerry in the 30th minute.

Double hops were also ignored in Clones, with both Mark Shields and then Ciarán McKeever in the final minute of normal time not being punished for fouling the ball.

I was in Tullamore for Saturday’s Leinster hurling semi-final replay and I wouldn’t agree with the few Galway supporters I spoke to at half-time and full-time. They claimed Kilkenny were being awarded too many frees.

The game was a good one over the 70 minutes and ref James Owens played his part. There were no major incidents, in contrast to what happened in the first game.

But on this occasion there were no outbreaks of fights. The only negative, from a refereeing perspective, was TJ Reid taking too many steps for Kilkenny’s last goal.

By that stage there were no gripes among the Galway fans as the game was over as a contest.

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