Former referee’s Chairman Pat McEnaney believes that Sunday’s ugly scenes at the end of normal time between Galway and Armagh could have been avoided by changing the existing protocols.
He also has a level of sympathy for Armagh panellist Tiernan Kelly who was not on the matchday squad, but still was caught on camera with his hand on the face of Galway’s Damien Comer during the melee.
“If he’s not on the matchday panel, he shouldn’t be on the pitch,” the Corduff man maintains.
“To me there is a 26-man panel for the day of a game.
"And that is all that should be in the Croke Park pitch, with the rest in the stands.
“To me, he shouldn’t have been on the pitch or near the pitch.”
He added: “That fella has a family, he is a young lad and he is going to pay a big price for it because he is now in the public limelight and gouging in Gaelic football, gouging and spitting doesn’t belong in Gaelic football. A box is a decent thing, almost. But there were too many subs there yesterday. In fairness, there were a lot of the subs that got involved. There were Galway subs in on top of Armagh players.”
McEnaney disputes Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney’s claim that the GAA have a case to answer in permitting both teams to leave the field at the same time at the end of normal time.
McEnaney said, “Galway were due down the tunnel first at half time. Armagh down second when the tunnel is cleared. That is an instruction. That’s the case in Croke Park, absolutely. Now that is at half-time, but you would normally take it that they follow suit for extra-time. But that is the protocol, there is no doubt about that. And that didn’t happen. Armagh did not wait until Galway left the field. That is a protocol that would have been sent to both county boards.”
Asked if recommendations that both sides should be sent to the dressing rooms either side of the pitch, McEnaney believes that should be the case in the future for double headers.
“Well, it’s risk assessment, isn’t it?” he asks. “And as a result of that yesterday, we do have the facilities of dressing rooms. So the protocol didn’t work yesterday, so what’s the next step in the process? And the next step is to have opposite dressing rooms. Absolutely, no question about it.”
McEnaney also has an insight into why referee David Coldrick may have identified Galway captain Sean Kelly and Armagh joint captain Aidan Nugent to dismiss for the start of extra-time.
“I would say, before it all started, there seemed to be words swapped between Sean Kelly and Aidan Nugent. And they kind of went after each other,” he says. “So they were the two boys who might have incited the melee. But you could have picked Damien Comer. They need to make a bit of a statement about this. They need to say something. Let’s say that game, that the melee started in extra time, then people would be asking the question, ‘well why didn’t they take action in the normal game?’
“To pick two guys out and send them off for inciting a melee, but you could have picked anyone. You could have picked Comer, Morgan in the video evidence. The two boys that were picked, yes, they were unfortunate. But I’d say Sean Kelly will get off. The video evidence will clear him and maybe rightly so.”
He added: “Armagh needs to lose their tag, and that image they have. You can be unfortunate and you can be unlucky. But it needs to stop.”