Former Louth star JP Rooney insists he doesn’t harbour any bitterness towards ex-Meath forward Joe Sheridan following the controversial 2010 Leinster SFC final between the counties.
And Rooney, Louth’s goal-scorer at Croke Park in the provincial decider six years ago, insists the Wee County should have put the game to bed before Sheridan’s disputed late intervention.
Sheridan’s ‘goal’, in the fourth minute of stoppage time, denied Louth a first provincial senior crown since 1957 and match referee Martin Sludden was attacked as he attempted to make his way off the pitch.
Rooney’s brilliant 63rd-minute effort had Louth dreaming of glory but Meath caught them at the death as Sheridan bundled the ball over the line from close range.
Rooney has met Sheridan since but the incident has never been mentioned in conversation.
Rooney, who retired at the end of the 2013 season, said: “I just know him to say hello or have a little chat. It (the goal) would never have been brought up.”
While Rooney admits the goal was an “injustice”, he also believes he played a contributory role in the time added on by Sludden.
Deep in stoppage time, Rooney kicked the ball away in an attempt to waste some time but Sludden played on and Louth hearts were broken.
But Rooney, 36, stated: “We should have been out the door. Looking back, we should have been four or five points ahead. At full-time, everything boiled down to frustration from players and supporters. You have one hand on the Leinster title and then it’s snatched away from you. There were 73 minutes on the clock and I was trying to waste time.
“At the time, I thought it was the right thing to do but it wasn’t.”
Louth were aggrieved at the time but Rooney insists that he doesn’t feel any lingering sense of anger now. He recalled: “I was up the pitch a wee bit but Seamus Kenny had a goal chance for Meath before that, Paddy (Keenan) blocked it. If that had gone in, we only had ourselves to blame. We had enough chances to be further ahead. In fairness to Joe, he didn’t try to throw it in. He threw it up to kick it but didn’t get any contact.
“And I kicked the ball away twice but it backfired on me. The ref played a couple of extra minutes but our own stupid mistakes cost us.
“It probably was an injustice but we missed a couple of frees to go four or five points ahead and the game was definitely over then.”
In a strange twist of fate, Meath found themselves on the wrong end of controversy last weekend when their hurlers thought they’d won the Christy Ring Cup but have now been plunged into a weekend replay with Antrim following a scoring error.
And on Sunday, the footballers will renew acquaintances with Louth in a Leinster SFC quarter-final that Rooney will attend at Parnell Park. While Rooney would love to have pocketed a Leinster medal from 2010, he believes that replaying that final would have created a false atmosphere, explaining: “If you look at Meath with the hurling game against Antrim, it’s up in Newry on Saturday at 7pm. The day is gone, the day that was in it. It would still be nice to have a Leinster medal but the whole occasion and day was gone at that time.
“We should have had the game home and hosed and wound down the clock. Maybe it was inexperience.
“I’ve moved on from it but if Louth won, we would have went a hell of a lot more forward. I wouldn’t say it scarred lads, but it wasn’t good for Louth football.” Rooney believes the current crop are in a “great place” ahead of the weekend’s fixture but is worried by the concession of 3-11 against Carlow in their first championship outing.
He added: “It’s an obvious thing to say but the longer Louth are in the game, the bigger the chance they have. They’re super in transition from defence to attack but they haven’t had too much to defend.
“The concession of 3-11 to Carlow is a concern but it was good to get it, come out the right side of it and have lessons to learn. On the flip-side, Meath will have looked at that and feel they can get at Louth with runners like Graham Reilly.
“The extra physicality is another thing that’s going to come into play.”
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