Offaly minor manager: Refereeing decisions left a sour taste

Offaly manager Leo O’Connor expressed disappointment that so many refereeing decisions hung over his side’s heartbreaking All-Ireland final defeat
Offaly minor manager: Refereeing decisions left a sour taste

LAST MINUTE: Tipperary’s Paddy McCormack and Conor Martin celebrate as a goal is scored. Pic: ©INPHO/Ken Sutton

Offaly manager Leo O’Connor expressed disappointment that so many refereeing decisions hung over his side’s heartbreaking All-Ireland final defeat.

O’Connor questioned if his team should have been awarded a penalty, rather than a 20-metre free, when substitute Cathal Robinson had a hurley thrown at him as he bore down on the Tipperary goal on 53 minutes.

He also wondered if Offaly were done out of a free, for a foul on midfielder Niall Furlong, right before Tipperary were awarded the free that finished with Paddy McCormack’s 65th minute game-winning goal.

The Faithful boss also queried the length of an advantage afforded to Tipperary at one point in the second half when the referee called back the play for a free after Tipperary had struck wide following the initial advantage.

While adamant that he was not being critical of referee Shane Hynes, O’Connor said a “sour taste” was left by the number of game-changing calls that did not go Offaly’s way.

“People are saying that some of the decisions...was it a penalty? I haven't looked at it yet, but I'm told it was a penalty. Should we have got a free before they got the last ball in? Were they inside in the square? These are all questions that are being thrown at me. I've not seen them (back),” said O’Connor.

“What these young fellas have done for the GAA today and how they carried themselves, how they performed, everything was a major, major positive but it's just not good enough when there's questions still to be asked after it.

“I'm not criticising anyone, I want to make that crystal clear. But when you have decisions that go against you on a consistent basis, like they did today, for minors, 16 and 17 years of age, it leaves a sour taste in the mind.

“Hindsight is a great thing and I'm not commenting on any of the decisions, but I just want to make it crystal clear that too many people have come up to me now, what, 25 minutes later, half an hour later after an All-Ireland and they're saying it's a complete injustice. From what I'm led to believe some of the decisions were questionable.” 

Having come on as a sub for Limerick during the 1994 All-Ireland SHC final that Offaly took from them with a late scoring burst, O’Connor said this steal was worse.

“Absolutely. I take my hat off to Tipperary, they kept going and kept going even when they went down to 14 men.

“That ball (Paddy Phelan’s free for McCormack’s goal) could just as easily have come 30 yards back out the field. It was a swing of a hurley. It connected and ended up in the back of the net.

“Sport is cruel. I experienced it in '94, five points up in an All-Ireland and you're turned over.” 

The manager concluded by stressing the importance of these Offaly players pushing on up through the ranks in the years ahead.

“Today was a huge day in their lives, they'll be very, very disappointed with it, but it's the start of the recuperation of Offaly hurling. It's not just based on one day. Offaly need to be back up playing MacCarthy Cup.”

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