Carney’s decision to opt for O’Donoghue, who was restricted to a point by Cork’s James Loughrey, provoked a massive backlash on social media while two of Carney’s RTÉ colleagues also questioned the decision.
“Martin Carney was watching a different game,” tweeted Joe Brolly, with Dessie Dolan commenting: “James will be looking at that crystal saying ‘I got that handy.’”
Added Colm O’Rourke: “There was no outstanding player on the night.” Accepting the award after the game, O’Donoghue admitted he was concerned at half-time that he would be called ashore.
Carney, when contacted yesterday, stood over his decision.
“I didn’t do this to garner attention or notice,” he said. “I stick to what I said. If people disagree, they are entitled to do so. I think he deserved it and I don’t say that in an arrogant tone.”
While effusive in his praise of Jonathan Lyne and Anthony Maher and acknowledging the excellent man-marking role carried out by Cork corner-back James Loughrey, the former Donegal and Mayo footballer elected for O’Donoghue off the back of his unstinting work-rate and overall contribution.
“On the night, I perhaps got it wrong. But at the time when asked the question ‘who is your man of the match’, I felt because of his effort, his consistent movement and trying to bring others into play, that James O’Donoghue deserved it. He had a very good game. I acknowledge I could have alternatively given it to Anthony Maher because of the way he kept Alan O’Connor out of the game, maybe he should have got the nod.
“Maybe Jonathan Lyne should have got the nod, he was outstanding on the day in the Kerry half-back line. They were certainly in my head at the time, but I just went for O’Donoghue because even though he was very well marked by James Loughrey, and I acknowledge that, I just felt his consistent effort all night was very good. That is my view and again it is a very subjective thing, he was who I called on the spur of the moment.
“Sometimes you get things wrong. If I did, I hold up my hands. But at the same time, what I would say is that it is a subjective thing. Because of the effort he made in a situation where he was under the cosh most of the time from Loughrey, it was a fine performance.”