Meath hurlers ready for replay, but not in Newry, or this weekend

The Meath hurlers have confirmed they will agree to a Christy Ring Cup final replay with Antrim after all, if the game goes ahead on Saturday week at Croke Park.

A statement read out at last night’s Meath county board meeting revealed that manager Martin Ennis and his players will take on the Saffrons in a rematch of last weekend’s controversial decider.

However, in a development that may not be acceptable to either Antrim or the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee, they have requested a change of both date and venue to the proposed replay.

The CCCC met on Tuesday afternoon and scheduled the second date for this Saturday evening at Páirc Esler in Newry.

That drew a sharp response from Ennis who claimed it was a ‘disgrace’ to demand a replay having presented the cup already at Croke Park, indicating they may not fulfill the fixture.

Controversy arose soon after the final whistle when it emerged that referee John O’Brien had made a miscalculation of the scoreline, believing Meath had won by a point.

The correct scoreline was a 1-20 to 2-17 draw and a replay of the game was duly ordered.

Meath’s Management Committee met in advance of last night’s board meeting in Syddan and released a statement to club delegates, outlining the call for the change of date and venue.

“We are happy to confirm that Meath, in the interest of hurling and fair play, will agree to replay the Christy Ring Cup hurling final against Antrim,” read the statement.

“We have requested that with regard to player welfare and appropriate preparation, that the game be played on Saturday June 18.

“We have also requested that this game be played in Croke Park, as befits the status of a national final.”

It remains to be seen if the development will be interpreted as Meath failing to fulfill this Saturday’s fixture, in which case sanctions could follow.

Trim delegate Noel Dempsey, the former Fianna Fáil government minister, was critical of the GAA for allowing the debacle to occur.

Problems arose in the final 10 minutes of the game when the scoreboard incorrectly accounted for a Meath point and, shortly after, broadcaster TG4 made an error with a separate Antrim point.

“I know it mightn’t be the most diplomatic thing to be saying when we’re issuing this statement but I think for everybody that was there, for the effort that was put in by both teams and everything else, it’s just not good enough that paid officials could make a total mess of something like that,” said Dempsey.

“I think we should ask for an apology, to both teams.”

Meath secretary Francis Flynn responded that an apology was contained in an email received by officials from the CCCC yesterday morning.

The email stated that the CCCC wished to “apologise unreservedly to everyone involved in Meath hurling for the issue in relation to score keeping which has over shadowed all other matters since Saturday evening”.


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