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GAA could act after ugly scenes mar Antrim victory

 

By Declan Bogue

An investigation into several flashpoints during Antrim's Joe McDonagh Cup victory over Carlow on Saturday is expected after referee John O'Brien sends in his match report.

The game, which has been dubbed the 'Carnage in Corrigan', was marred by a series of ugly incidents, with four players - including one for the Saffrons - getting red cards.

Full-forward Michael Armstrong and wing-back Joe Maskey's inter-county seasons are definitely over.

Armstrong sustained a broken arm when a Carlow player pulled across him in an incident that O'Brien did not award a free for. He had to have a metal pin inserted into the arm.

Meanwhile, Maskey - who has been a real find this year - suffered a broken bone in his foot after he landed awkwardly, with no malice in the challenge.

However, it was the incident involving Neil McManus which was the most unsavoury.

Carlow ace Richard Coady saw red for pushing his stick into McManus' groin.

The Antrim man required a visit to the hospital and stitches in an intimate area.

Although the incident was dealt with at the time, there is a possibility the Competitions Control Committee may consider a stiffer sentence given the nature of the injury, and the county board could be liable for a financial penalty.

However, Antrim joint-manager Terence 'Sambo' McNaughton is refusing to add to the list of complaints.

He stated: "I don't want people queuing up to feel sorry for Antrim. As far as we are concerned, it is over and done with. We now have Laois.

"I don't know if the authorities will take any action and to be honest it's not something I am thinking about. All we have to worry about now is Laois coming to Dunloy this weekend and we are in for a big game against them.

"Things went on (against Carlow) that shouldn't have, but we will not be looking any sympathy. It is done and over with now.

"My point of view is that we came through a battle, we showed great character and players really stood up for themselves. I am not going to harp on too much about it. You can get too bogged down with this. I am no Mother Teresa and I wasn't when I played."

Antrim have Laois coming to Dunloy this Saturday, with a 1.30pm throw-in, and are getting them at a good time after their 3-20 to 0-19 defeat to Kerry at the weekend.

This follows their opening round defeat to Westmeath, which has put the midlanders in danger of relegation from the competition that they were many people's favourites to win.

The two had previously met in Division 1B of the hurling league, where Antrim's poor shooting let them down in front of goal.

"Even going back as far as when I was hurling, Laois and Antrim have always been there or thereabouts. They have had the upper hand on us this past while, there's no doubt about that," said McNaughton.

"We felt we should have beaten them in Dunloy and felt we left that one behind us, we had 19 wides or something that day.

"From a management point of view, when you are picking from a small base, every player you lose is critical. Michael Armstrong is definitely out for the rest of the year and Joe Maskey is definitely out for the rest of the year. We can't afford to lose two quality players like that.

"We just have to look at it, use it as motivation and go on. We have good players now ready to come in and there is a panel. I always said from the start of the year that this is a competition where your panel will be tested to the limit and it has proven that way for us.

"If you get a knock at all, you might not be able to make it for six days' time. A dead leg is enough to rule you out of the competition!"

McNaughton insists that although McManus has stitches in, he will be taking the field against Laois.

They also have something of a strong panel developing, although they could have been doing with the likes of James Connolly and Ciaran Clarke committing this season.

Nevertheless, Eddie McCloskey will push hard for inclusion in the forward ranks, and Arron Graffin should be fully mended from his hamstring injury.

However, Maskey's injury does come as a terrible blow, given how the young man has forced himself into the reckoning. Hailing from a less than renowned St Enda's, he has established himself as a strong performer.

"He is going to be a regular for Antrim for the next 10-plus years," enthused his manager McNaughton.

Belfast Telegraph

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