Kilkenny will vigorously fight any proposed punishment against Brian Cody for his remarks about referee Barry Kelly.
The county have not yet received word from the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) about the possibility of the Kilkenny manager being asked to explain his comments, made in the wake of last month’s All-Ireland final replay win over Tipperary.
Cody described Kelly’s decision to aware Tipperary an injury-time free in the earlier drawn All-Ireland final as “criminal” but Kilkenny are quietly confident the James Stephens man won’t be reprimanded. However, a county board source said they will back their manager to the hilt, should he be hit with a recommended punishment by the CCCC. Several officials are known to share the same opinion of Kelly as Cody. At least one expressed to Croke Park the board’s concern about the possibility of the referee being appointed for the final before he was formally announced.
Meanwhile, Cork referee John Sexton has called on GAA chiefs to penalise Cody for his criticism of the Westmeath referee. “I do hope the GAA take action. That’s nothing personal (against Cody) but we have seen on TV this year several managers abuse referees and get away with it.
“We’ve also had overturned suspensions, which I feel doesn’t show faith in decisions referees make on the day. We are heading down a slippery slope, where referees will not make the correct calls knowing they’re going to be overturned. The whole discipline system is broken and it’s time to fix it.”
While Sexton felt Kelly’s decision to award a free against Brian Hogan was “a little soft”, he defended the match official’s decision. “Barry called it as he saw it. Mr Cody should have said nothing and went through the proper channels, if he had a problem. He didn’t say a word until after the last game. There were incidents in that game (replay) also where Tipperary should have got some frees. I didn’t hear him say anything about that.
“The first goal that Kilkenny got (scored by Richie Power), in my opinion, should have been a free out. Look at what happened under the dropping ball. He (Cody) said nothing about that, either.”
Sexton also backed Kelly to continue his inter-county career despite Cody’s scathing criticism. “Barry is one of the best referees in the last decade and will take it on the chin. The wheel always turns 360 degrees. If it wasn’t Barry, it would have been another ref.”
Sexton was in charge of last Sunday week’s fiery Kerry SHC final, when he tried to intervene as former Kerry footballer Paul Galvin was attacked with a hurley by Kilmoyley vice-chairman Paddy O’Sullivan. “I saw this man with a hurley running towards Paul (Galvin), and I caught Paul’s jersey and tried to pull him out of the way. He (O’Sullivan) made contact with Paul and then players got involved. I dealt with the players as coolly as I normally would and got on with the game. I was shocked, to say the least but in fairness, this will be a wake-up call for every county board that there are too many people left into the sideline in Gaelic games.”
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