Whether he was mindful or not of the criticism he took for awarding James O’Donoghue a penalty after an innocuous challenge by Mark Collins, Hughes’ decision not to give Ruairi Corrigan a penalty after he was clearly pushed in the square, was the major talking point after Fermanagh’s Round 4A qualifier win over Westmeath.
The Crossmaglen whistler was subjected to a lot of verbal abuse from Fermanagh fans at half time for issuing two black cards to Marty O’Brien and Ryan McCluskey, even though both were technically correct.
Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath sagely refused to criticise Hughes stating simply: “From my distance it looked like a penalty”.
“It looked like a penalty and I don’t know why the referee didn’t give it, given he was giving very easy, close-in frees, particularly to them (Westmeath) in the first half.
“These are questions only he can answer. “But obviously the Fermanagh people here today were exceptional and I think, legitimately, unhappy with refereeing decisions.
“When you start to hit wides, it can destabilise a team but once we got the scores prior to half time, the whole thing bedded in and there was a lot more structure to the way the team played.” Tomas Corrigan admitted if the game had been in the balance, he probably wouldn’t have attempted the deft chip over Gary Connaughton which sealed victory in the 64th minute.
“If it was tight I probably wouldn’t have gone for it,” admitted Corrigan.
“It was a great flick by Richie (O’Callaghan), I didn’t think he’d make it!
“But he got there brilliantly and the little dink... I don’t know where that came from.
“It’s a classic corner-forward goal because 50 per cent of the time it doesn’t come off, and normally I’d just fist it over the bar so I don’t know what came over me, but the goal was the killer blow.”