The county board apologised to the Armagh man last August after they released a stinging statement, criticising his handling of the drawn Munster SFC final against Kerry the previous month.
Hughes was slated after he awarded a second-half penalty to Kerry for a Mark Collins’ challenge on James O’Donoghue, from which O’Donoghue goaled. Kerry went on to earn a replay with a last-gasp Fionn Fitzgerald point.
A Cork statement released the August Bank Holiday Monday read: “The tremendous performance of the team in the drawn Munster final has been widely acknowledged, and it is quite probable that but for a totally wrong refereeing decision in that game, Cork would now be in an All-Ireland semi-final.”
The statement, released on Cork’s official website, was an ill-judged attempt to counter the criticism levelled at then manager Brian Cuthbert, who stepped down following the heavy All-Ireland qualifier defeat to Kildare, which came seven days after Kerry won the provincial final replay.
Cork later wrote to Hughes expressing their regret at the way in which they implicated him for the senior footballers’ failure to beat Kerry in Killarney. It is believed they would have faced a charge and a proposed fine had they not taken such action.
On the day of the game, RTÉ Sunday Game pundit Joe Brolly was also scathing in his assessment of Hughes’ decision, while in these pages former referee John Bannon wrote that the call against Collins was harsh.
Hughes takes charge of Cork’s U21 clash with Mayo in Cusack Park this weekend but officials have decided discretion is the best part of valour and elected not to remark on his appointment. The Crossmaglen native hasn’t taken charge of a Cork senior game since the draw in Fitzgerald Stadium.