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An honest analysis of the key decisions in Kerry v Derry

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by Adam Moynihan

Kerry and Derry served up an enthralling match at Croke Park on Sunday last. The Ulster champions threw everything they had at Kerry, and for a while there it looked like they were on the brink of a famous win. Jack O’Connor’s men held firm, though, and with the incomparable David Clifford to the fore, they just managed to get over the line.

All in all, it was a wonderful advert for real Gaelic football. It was open, action-packed, and full of skill and passion.

Unfortunately, a lot of the post-match talk focussed on the referee and the decisions he made over the course of the game. Derry supporters felt that Joe McQuillan favoured Kerry. When I shared the plans for the new Fitzgerald Stadium on Twitter, one fan commented: “Where is the statue of Joe McQuillan going?”

Watching the game live I did feel as though the referee had made some mistakes – as most referees do over the course of a frenetic game like this – but the post-match rhetoric that McQuillan screwed Derry over prompted me to take a closer look.

I realise that as a Kerryman I might not be totally impartial but here’s my honest analysis of the key incidents.

28th minute: Diarmuid O’Connor black card. While lying on the ground, the Kerry midfielder is adjudged to have tripped Brendan Rogers as the Derry midfielder attempts to get up and move the ball on. It might seem innocuous enough on first viewing but O’Connor does trip his opponent and the rules are very clear on this type of infraction. McQuillan correctly issues a black card.

32nd minute: Shane Ryan clashes with Shane McGuigan. A loose square pass high up the field from Tom O’Sullivan forces Ryan to scamper and gather a bouncing ball under pressure from McGuigan. Ryan jumps, collects, and turns his body. I think he is expecting a much heavier hit from McGuigan, but the Derry man stands his ground. Ryan’s backside hits McGuigan flush in the face, knocking him to the floor. Ryan breaks forward and kicks a point.

For me, Ryan has every right to go for the ball and once he leaves the ground, he has every right to turn his body to protect himself.

The question is: does he leave more on McGuigan than he needs to? Having viewed the replays, I would say possibly so, but in real time I can understand how McQuillan waved play on. At worst it might have been a free and maybe a yellow, but nothing more than that.

34th minute: Jason Foley’s head injury. Foley goes down holding his face after McGuigan inadvertently swings his arm back and catches him. McQuillan says Foley is faking it to waste time (Kerry have a man in the sin bin at this point). It’s hard to say whether or not the Kerry full back was trying to run down the clock. Only he knows. Teams have successfully manipulated this rule in the past.

From a Kerry perspective, you would be hoping that whoever referees the final is equally unforgiving if a Dublin player attempts the same thing.

37th minute: David Clifford shoulders McGuigan. Clifford catches his opposite number with a bone-crunching but legal shoulder. McQuillan incorrectly awards Derry a tap-over free and also issues a yellow card, much to the Kerry captain’s bemusement.

50th minute: Jack Barry tackles McGuigan. Barry brings Derry counter-attack to a halt when he reaches across the onrushing McGuigan and knocks him to the ground. McGuigan goes down holding his face and Derry players tell the ref it was an elbow. It wasn’t. Yellow card issued, the right call.

66th minute: McKinless called for a foul on Stephen O’Brien. My initial reaction was that this one was soft and watching it back hasn’t changed my mind. McKinless does make contact in an awkward fashion but no Kerry fan would have complained if play carried on. Instead, McQuillan awards a close in free. Kerry score to close the gap to one.

67th minute: Clifford is fouled by McKaigue. Derry fans were unhappy with this one as well but I don’t see their argument in this instance. It looks to me like McKaigue pulls him back.

69th minute: Seán O’Shea turns Brendan Rogers over. This turnover around the middle led directly to a point for Clifford that made it 1-16 to 1-14. If you examine the tackle closely, O’Shea appears to hit Rogers in the stomach in an attempt to break the ball loose – before actually knocking the ball loose with his other hand. This should have been a free to Derry.

75th minute: Time ticks on… Four minutes of additional time were signalled by the match officials. Four minutes and 32 seconds had been played when Shane Ryan comes and clears what appears to be Derry’s last attempt at fashioning an equalising goal. Graham O’Sullivan raises his hands to the air when Micheál Burns gathers the breaking ball. Several players on both sides stop moving entirely, expecting the final whistle.

The whistle doesn’t come, however, so Kerry carry the ball forward. Over five minutes of additional have passed when Odhran Lynch intercepts David Clifford’s attempted pass to Tom O’Sullivan. Still no final whistle. Derry go up the pitch. McKinless wins a free, and then…

76th minute: McKinless kicks O’Shea. When McKinless attempts to take the free quickly, O’Shea knocks the ball out of his hands. The Derry player is in the act of kicking but the ball is well gone when he decides to continue his striking motion. He forcefully kicks O’Shea across the midriff – so forcefully that he hurts himself and needs to be stretchered off. To my mind, this was the only blatant red card that McQuillan missed. Having said that, it wouldn’t have affected the result.

The referee made mistakes on both sides. A couple of those decisions went against Derry in the closing stages so their frustration is understandable, but at the end of the day it was their failure to convert their chances that cost them.

SILLY

Ultimately, these claims that referees go out to screw teams over or that they have agendas are all a bit silly.

If Derry had managed to score a goal with that last chance and then win in extra time, Kerry fans would feel aggrieved with the same referee for the same refereeing performance. I think that tells its own story.

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Kerry ladies must bounce back at home to Waterford

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All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 2

Kerry v Waterford

Saturday 3pm

Fitzgerald Stadium

The Kerry ladies will be looking to get back to winning ways against Waterford on Saturday following last weekend’s frustrating draw against Donegal in Ballybofey.

The Kingdom led with seconds remaining in treacherous conditions but a late Donegal free snatched a draw for the home side (Donegal 1-6 Kerry 0-9). It was a game that Kerry would have been expecting to win and the result puts a lot more pressure on them this weekend as they try to top the three-team group and earn a home quarter-final.

If they beat Waterford and Donegal do likewise next week, Kerry and Donegal will be level in first place on four points each. The top seed will then be decided by the head-to-head record between the teams. As Kerry v Donegal was a draw, the deciding factor will be whoever scored the most points in that draw. That would be good news for Kerry as they scored nine points to Donegal’s six.

When Kerry and Waterford last met (in this year’s Munster Championship), Kerry needed a late winner by Fiadhna Tangney to prevail by narrowest of margins (1-8 to 1-7). If Waterford beat Kerry and then lose to Donegal, Kerry would be eliminated from the championship.

The Kerry squad has been boosted by the return of Síofra O’Shea who came off the bench against Donegal following a lengthy period out with a knee injury.

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US-bound Kerry runner Lynch hopes to emulate Mageean magic

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by Adam Moynihan

Killarney middle distance runner Oisín Lynch is taking inspiration from newly crowned European 1500m champion Ciara Mageean as he gets set for the next stage of his career in the United States.

This week Lynch confirmed that he will be heading Stateside after accepting a scholarship at Adams State University in Colorado. The promising 800m and 1500m competitor caught the eye of coaches at the leading American college after representing Ireland in the Youth Olympics and also by winning two national titles in recent months.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, the 18-year-old Killarney Valley AC athlete, who is currently doing his Leaving Cert at St Brendan’s College, says he one day hopes to emulate Mageean’s heroics on the international stage.

“The Irish are on the up at underage and at senior level,” Lynch notes. “We have been improving a lot in recent years. When you see Ciara Mageean winning the 1500m it just shows that it can be done by Irish people.

“Sometimes Irish athletes don’t really believe in themselves when they’re getting knocked out of championships by English or European athletes. Mageean winning that European title is definitely something to drive me on. It shows that I can actually do it.”

DREAM

For Lynch, moving to the United States is a hugely significant step, and one that he has dreamed about making since he was a child.

“It’s unbelievable. I always hoped I could earn a scholarship. I worked hard over the last few years, so it’s nice to see that work paying off.

“I had a few schools onto me but when Adams State got in touch, I sized it up and I knew it was a really good opportunity.

“The fact that the college is at 7,500 feet… That’s a crazy altitude. It’s double the height of Carrauntoohil. Altitude training has massive benefits for distance running and nowadays nearly every pro spends most of their year training at altitude. The chance to get that training for the next couple of years is great.

“And their athletics programme is unbelievable. Coach Damon Martin has been there for 40 years and he has coached 12 Olympians. Adams State is in the top 15 for distance in the country and the standard out there in America is very high.”

STRIDES

Killarney Valley AC have made enormous strides since building their new, state-of-the-art facility in 2020 and Lynch is a grateful beneficiary of that progress.

“I can’t thank the club enough. Going back a couple of years we were training on grass in parks. When you want to be a track runner, it’s just not the same. After a lot of hard work by a lot of good people, we managed to get a 200-metre track in Killarney. That’s massive for us and it’s all we need for training.

“The coaches down there are putting in the hard work, including my dad (Con), Tomás Griffin, Jean Courtney, Jerry Griffin, Bríd Stack, Alan Delaney… I could go on. It’s a great club and there are some good athletes coming through. It’s an exciting time for Killarney Valley.”

After Lynch completes his Leaving Cert, he will start preparing for life as a college athlete. He will study kinesiology in Colorado and on the track he hopes to keep on moving in the right direction. That means getting his times down (his current PBs are 1.50.59 over 800m and 3.51 over 1500m), representing Ireland, and hopefully winning a national title in America.

“Obviously I’ll take every step as it comes,” the ambitious Kerryman says, “but the Olympics is the main long-term target, hopefully in LA in 2028.”

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