Meath manager Andy McEntee has claimed that one of his players was spat at towards the end of their Division 2 encounter with Kildare at Newbridge this afternoon.
Kildare claimed a deserved 1-14 to 0-14 win in the semi-final and, with it, promotion to the top tier next season, but the game was marred by an ugly fracas towards the end involving numerous players from both sides.
It started with an off-the-ball incident, just in front of the Meath dugout, with less than a minute of normal time to play and it ended with Derry referee Barry Cassidy discipling five men.
All bar one of them was wearing green.
Meath’s Conor McGill and Brian Conlon were both sent off on straight reds. Ethan Devine and goalkeeper Andrew Colgan were shown yellows while Kildare’s Alex Beirne was also cautioned by the official after consultations with his assistants.
It was a stormy end to an affair that had been largely devoid of badness, although Kildare midfielder Luke Flynn had already received his marching orders at that point for another incident which had occurred away from play.
McEntee did not hold back afterwards.
“Don't talk to me about the sending off. We had a player who got spat on in the face and he ends up getting sent off so I mean... How many players were involved in that? A) How many players were involved in it, and B) Who started it? And what was the outcome?”
When the breakdown of cards was put back to him, McEntee responded that it seemed “slightly imbalanced. “But obviously I’m biased,” he said.
When asked if it was McGill who had been spat on, he alleged: “Yeah. Conor McGill is not a fighter. Somebody spits in your face, what are you going to do?”
McEntee dismissed the idea that Meath would appeal some of the decisions, effectively describing such a course of action as a waste of time, even when he was perplexed to learn that the two dismissed would have to serve a suspension come championship.
Kildare GAA said they would not be making any comment at this time.
Of more concern to McEntee going forward are the injuries to Donal Keogan who came off with what McEntee said was an AC joint issue and Brian Menton who damaged ankle ligaments and was also forced to call short his involvement.
Kildare suffered even worse in that department with Willie Hyland, Paul Cribbin and Kevin Feely all coming off injured and Luke Flynn another to be facing at least a one-match ban after he received a straight red midway through the second-half.
Cribbin was taken to hospital with an ankle injury while Feely and Hyland picked up hamstring problems. Daniel Flynn had to sit this one altogether with a problem of a similar nature. All-too-familiar issues in this stalled and then rushed season.
"It's very intense, to be honest with you,” said Kildare manager Jack O’Connor of the truncated schedule. “It's four hard matches in five weeks and last weekend we played a challenge game, not a full game but 40 minutes, and it's tough going, like.”