The Tipperary defenders’s 2016 All-Ireland senior football semi-final lasted less than nine minutes, when he was dismissed by referee David Coldrick on a black card, following a tangle with Mayo’s Diarmuid O’Connor. Kiely is still frustrated by the decision.
“Looking back, there weren’t too many angles of it. I might have a biased view on it but from looking at the TV repeats, it looked like it was just a tangle of legs. It’s hard to describe, the ref is f****d if he does and f****d if he doesn’t. There are always going to be questions about this rule. It’s down to interpretation at the minute.”
Kiely’s expression as he trudged off the Croke Park pitch summed up his devastation and Tipp certainly struggled in his absence, cut open down the centre for Jason Doherty’s crucial first half goal.
“It was tough but I wouldn’t say it was the be all and end all. I was double questioning myself, ‘was it bad’ and reading different things from different people out there. ‘No, it shouldn’t have been’ and then other people were saying it was. I sent out a few tweets in jest from other matches but it was grand, these things happen.”
Kiely, aged 26, thumbed the following Twitter post as Dublin and Mayo went at it in the drawn All-Ireland final: ‘Any black cards in this match yet?’ And when the teams contested the replay, Kiely opted for the See-No-Evil monkey emjoi, hands covering his eyes.
“It’s an alright rule (black card),” he says now. “For the third man blocking, it’s great. You have players that can run off the shoulder now and not be blocked or impeded. That’s a good way for it but there was one against Louth, Jack Kennedy running through and it was an as clear as day blatant goalscoring opportunity. That’s not a benefit as they can sub the man off and bring a man on.
“When it comes to a goal- scoring opportunity and your man’s through on goal, that’s a red card, like the soccer. The ref has to be sure that it’s deliberate and the one thing that I’d be saying for accidental stuff is that the linesmen and umpires could help more, so it just doesn’t come down to the ref. The ref should be able to talk to them ask ‘did you see it’ and come to a decision. There are a lot of factors that can be improved, good and bad parts.”
But Kiely’s moved on now, playing arguably the best football of his career.
This evening, it’s Louth again, the team who beat Tipperary in the penultimate Division 3 group outing before the Premier County defeated Armagh last weekend deep in stoppage time to clinch promotion. For Kiely, it’s a chance to banish some demons and thankfully, for a player who’s suffered hamstring problems in the past, he’s had a clear run.
Kiely laughed: “Every time I seem to do an interview, the mother questions me. ‘Every time, you seem to get injured after it!’ But Ian Dowling (physio) has done good work, and Paul McMahon (injury therapist), keeping lads functioning over the last few weeks. I’m working very closely with the two of them and they’re helping me through tricky patches. I haven’t had a serious setback for a year, year and a half.”