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Antrim call for fair resolution to Cup controversy

By Declan Bogue

Published 07/06/2016

In the air: Meath’s Joey Keena lifts the trophy but there was a counting error
In the air: Meath’s Joey Keena lifts the trophy but there was a counting error

Antrim county board Chairman Collie Donnelly has appealed for “fair play” from the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee when they sit down today to plot a course of action following Saturday’s controversial Christy Ring Cup final.

Meath were presented with the Cup and held a homecoming parade over the weekend, even though their 2-18 to 1-20 ‘victory’ is disputed by members of the media and commentators who were present at Croke Park.

Already, match referee John O’Brien has accepted that he counted up the scores wrong. This may be due in part to the scoreboard operator chalking up an Antrim point to Meath, later removing it but not adding it to the Saffrons’ total — meaning the scores should have been level at the full-time whistle.

Antrim postponed their monthly meeting from last night until tonight when the decision and actions of the CCCC will be known.

“We feel we need fair play here,” Donnelly told the Belfast Telegraph. “At the end of the day, both teams scored the same amount and okay, the fella made a mistake. These things happen but it would be a big injustice if they didn’t give us another opportunity.”

It has been indicated from Meath sources that after the Royals team toured various towns and villages in the south of the county celebrating their ‘win’ on Sunday, they are unlikely to take part in any replay.

Donnelly explained the Antrim position.

“In a final scenario, they got the Cup and they enjoyed the moment and fair play to them,” he said. “But I think there is a bit more to it than that. Who plays next year in the Liam MacCarthy Cup? Ultimately, that was the goal. No disrespect to the Christy Ring Cup, but the goal was to get back playing in the Leinster Championship.

“In the cold light of day when you look at it, both teams scored the same amount of points so it would be a very harsh ruling to say we have to run with it because we have no place in the calendar, which we don’t think is the case here.”

With referee O’Brien admitting his culpability over the scoreline, it has left the CCCC with no option but to order a rematch.

Rule 6.42 states that the award of a game rests with the committee in charge acting on a referee’s report.

A suitable replay could possibly be staged this Sunday as a curtain-raiser to the Meath-Louth Leinster football Championship quarter-final in Croke Park.

“They could have all the support they want and we will really be going into the lion’s den then!” Donnelly joked.

However, that might be unlikely as it is rumoured that a number of Meath players are due to travel to America in the coming days. The destination of the Cup may be a mystery at this stage, but it would seem that Antrim will earn their place in the Leinster hurling Championship, and re-entry to the Liam MacCarthy Cup, in 2017.

Meanwhile, Monaghan’s Darren Hughes has acknowledged that their 2-22 to 0-9 victory over Down in Sunday’s Ulster football Championship quarter-final has sent out a statement that the champions are not to be underestimated.

“The five teams left in the Ulster Championship are probably the best five teams in Ulster so the next day you go out is going to be a different task,” the Scotstown farmer said.

“You just have to regroup and get ready for the next day.

“To be honest, I don’t think there’s much between any of the teams left in it. They’ve proved over the National League and in the Championship that they’re all at their best.”

Hughes added that the level of performance might not always be the defining factor in winning a game, reminding us that they just got past Cavan in last year’s quarter-final on their way to winning Ulster .

He said: “We probably feel we won the Ulster title last year without being great in any sense, we were probably lucky to pull away from Cavan in the last 20 minutes, we pulled away from Fermanagh in the last 10 minutes and didn’t score for 22 minutes against Donegal in the final.”

Monaghan meet the winners of this weekend’s quarter-final between Fermanagh and Donegal on Saturday, June 25 at Kingspan Breffni Park.

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