Kieran Donaghy: ‘Next thing there’s a finger pulling at my eye’

Kieran Donaghy has described the eye-gouging incident in the 2015 All-Ireland final that led to a one-game suspension for Dublin’s Philly McMahon as a “f****n’ low blow”.
Kieran Donaghy: ‘Next thing there’s a finger pulling at my eye’

Donaghy had previously refused to comment on the matter but in his autobiography What Do You Think of That? which is out next week, he gives a real-time account of the controversial incident.

And while the Kerry player later expresses his respect for McMahon, his account of the flashpoint in the final minutes of the 2015 decider is bound to further stoke one of the fiercest rivalries in Gaelic football.

“I fight on my back for it and manage to grab it again,” Donaghy writes. “I’m trying to get up but I’m surrounded by Dubs. One of them is nicking the side of me. Next thing there’s a finger pulling at my eye.

“I’m just getting to my feet with the ball intact when David Coldrick blows his whistle. Good. Free in.

“But no. It’s a hop ball. Why’s it a hop ball?! Some fella’s nearly taken the eye out of my f****n’ head!

“I run a few steps towards the ref, ball under my arm. I don’t roar, I don’t show any anger.

I just inform him. ‘He gouged my eye on the ground, Dave.’

“‘Ah, I didn’t see that now, Kieran,’ he says.

“Philly McMahon sticks his head in. ‘It’s two boys competing, that’s all!”

“I just look at him, bemused. At this stage I’ve no issue with him; I think it’s someone else who did it. I’m not wanting anyone sent off, I just wanted a free we should have had, and now that we didn’t get it, I just want to win this hop ball. The clock is ticking.”

Donaghy would win the resultant jump ball to set up a goal chance which Kerry fluffed, and after Dublin cleared the danger, Donaghy says he had words with his marker, Rory O’Carroll.

“’That was a f***n’ low blow, man! You nearly pulled the eye out of my head!’

“But he [O’Carroll] insists. ‘Honestly, man, I didn’t touch you.’

“Twenty-four hours later I’ll realise he’s right. When our train stops off in Rathmore, a couple of our county board officers come up to me all flustered, saying RTÉ News want my reaction to ‘the Philly McMahon incident’; supposedly it has been highlighted on The Sunday Game. I’ll tell our officers not to worry, I’ll handle it, and when I’m asked by the reporter about it, I just give the old line about what happens on the field staying on the field.

“But it’s only there in Rathmore that it clicks: So that’s why McMahon was so eager to talk to me that time…”

In the book’s final chapter Donaghy explains why he refused to shake hands with McMahon just before the throw in of this year’s semi-final – but why he shook it afterwards.

“I make my way straight up to full forward, leaving the jump ball to [Anthony] Maher and [David] Moran. McMahon is waiting for me. He doesn’t put out his hand. Fine. I won’t shake your hand so. Then, at the last second, he sticks it out. But I’m already committed to not shaking hands. Jesus Christ, we just shook hands with that [pre-match] bullshit protocol! This isn’t a cheese and wine party! Throw it in, ref. Time for war.”

After Dublin’s win though, Donaghy made a point of shaking hands with McMahon. “At the end of the day, I respect him. I respect what he’s done with his life, what he does for his community, and a lot of what he does to help his team win. I respect all of them. You have to give it to them – they’re a great team.”

What Do You Think of That? by Kieran Donaghy, co-written with Kieran Shannon and published by Sport Media, is released this week. Donaghy will sign copies of his new book at Easons, Tralee on Saturday, October 22 at noon.

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