Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Leinster Championship: Louth admit defeat and give up on final replay

Louth players confront referee Martin Sludden after Joe Sheridan's goal

Louth have consigned the Leinster SFC final to the painful memory department and are now looking forward to the draw for the All-Ireland fourth-round qualifiers.

They had until yesterday afternoon to lodge a formal objection to the result of last Sunday's clash with Meath and begin a battle for a rematch.

However, following consultations between players, management and the county board executive, they decided against it, which means that Meath are officially Leinster champions and are into the All-Ireland quarter-final, while Louth will face one of the winners of the Round 3 qualifier ties, which are paired as follows this weekend: Dublin versus Armagh; Wexford versus Cork; Offaly versus Down; Derry versus Kildare. The draws for Round 4 will take place on Sunday evening, with the games scheduled for the weekend after next.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Meath-Louth tie was only the second game that Martin Sludden had refereed in this year's football championship, while he wasn't appointed to any NFL Division 1 games last spring.

Most of the leading referees in the elite panel had refereed at least three championship games by last Sunday, while some are moving on to four this weekend. Prior to last Sunday, Sludden's only other championship game had been Armagh versus Monaghan in the Ulster quarter-final.

He red-carded Armagh's Brian Mallon just before half-time and booked nine others but it's understood that he received a good assessment.

However, there was some surprise when Sludden was handed a provincial final, especially since he hadn't refereed any of the 29 NFL Division 1 games this year. Instead, he officiated in Divisions 2 and 3.

Meanwhile, Tyrone county board chairman Ciaran McLaughlin has backed Sludden to bounce back.

McLaughlin said: “I didn't see what happened live but I saw it on ‘The Sunday Game’. It was unbelievable and there is no place in Gaelic Games for scenes like that and no place in the GAA for people like that.

“It's too early to say how Martin will recover. I've spoken to him a couple of times. I know that the people of Louth are suffering but that man admitted his mistake and has taken the brunt of what happened. Hopefully he will bounce back.”