Former Louth manager Paddy Carr believes referee Brendan Gorman “lost control of everything towards the end” of the county’s remarkable qualifier defeat to Meath in 2002.
Graham Geraghty’s last-gasp goal for the Royal County stole a famous win for the 2001 All-Ireland finalists over their neighbours and rivals in Navan.
Carr said the experience underlined the “absolute significance of being mentally strong”, because Meath, who play Louth again in the Championship next Sunday, were largely outplayed, but still won the contest.
The 2009 AIB All-Ireland-winning club manager of Kilmacud Crokes revealed that he felt Armagh official Gorman was partly responsible for Louth’s loss 15 years ago.
“I certainly felt, and it’s no sour grapes, that the referee lost control of everything towards the end of that game,” Carr claimed in an interview with LMFM radio. “Like, the linesman said to me, he came over and said two minutes [of injury-time], but seven-and-a-half minutes were played. But look, these things happen, you’ve just got to get on with it.
“Certainly, in my career afterwards, that really, really made it crystal clear to me about the importance of having serious mental strength, in terms of nurturing lads and what they have on their mind. It left us at a difficult crossroads after that.”
Páirc Tailteann was full for the derby encounter and Carr suggested the referee was overawed by the occasion.
“I remember trying to get a sub on,” he continued. “The linesman and the fourth official, one of them said to me: ‘No, no, you’re alright, Paddy, it’s all over’. I kept looking on and I said: ‘You need to tell that guy out there.’ When Brendan Gorman, the referee, came over, I just felt he was kind of spooked, because there was an incredible atmosphere there and you could actually sense it. I think he was nearly afraid to blow the [full-time] whistle. Graham changed the script completely then. He couldn’t wait to blow the whistle then.”
Carr described a bizarre incident before the game, when he was forced to stop the traffic on the main Trim to Navan road to allow the competing players to make their way to the ground.
“The Meath lads were coming in from Bellinter House, as far as I can remember, and we were doing our warm up in Balreask,” said Carr.
“We ended up with the two teams on a country lane. For anyone that knows the Trim to Navan road there at Balreask, there was such a crowd coming down the road that we couldn’t get out onto the main road.
“And every second car [behind us] was either Meath or Louth players. I remember I looked back and I saw Sean Boylan in the car behind me. I said: ‘I’m going to go out and stop the traffic’, so I ran up the road and I actually did something I could have been arrested for. I stopped the traffic on the Trim road and let out all the cars. I was hoping to keep a few of the Meath cars back!”
Meath pulled off a similar smash-and-grab raid on Louth in 2010, conjuring another late goal at Croke Park to deny the Wee County a rare Leinster title. That goal, from Joe Sheridan, shouldn’t have stood, as it was illegally bundled over the line.
Carr was left with deep regret after the 2002 setback.
“If we had come out of Navan with a win that day, I’m certainly sure it would have just given Louth football an enormous turbo boost,” he said. “It just would have been into different territory for us.”
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Full interview can be heard here: https://soundcloud.com/lmfmradio/sunday-sport-meath-vs-louth-2002-remembered
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