Dublin set to contest dismissals


DUBLIN LOOK set to contest one or both of the straight red cards issued during Sunday’s dramatic Allianz Hurling League relegation play-off against Galway – hardly surprising given there’s still everything to play for in Saturday’s replay in Portlaoise.

Somewhat dismayed to be forced into extra-time to begin with, Dublin finished the Division One A play-off with 13 men after losing Ryan O’Dwyer within a minute of the restart, before Alan McCrabbe was also shown a straight red card 10 minutes later, in both cases for an apparent strike on their opponent.

Under the experimental match-ban rules both O’Dywer and McCrabbe are therefore automatically ruled out of the replay – where the losers are relegated to Division One. The Dublin County Board were awaiting details of the exact nature of the proposed suspensions before confirming their next move, although in O’Dwyer’s case, it looks to be a repeat infraction within a 12-month period, and if so will carry a two-match ban, further reducing any chance of him getting off for the replay.

O’Dwyer’s incident in Tullamore also took place off the ball, and in the apparent absence of any video evidence that might help an appeal: either way, it marks O’Dwyer’s third sending-off in the past 10 months, as he received a straight red card against Galway in the Leinster championship last June, coincidentally at the same ground.

O’Dwyer was also sent off in Dublin’s narrow defeat to Kilkenny back on March 18th, on 43 minutes, although in that instance for a second bookable offence. Still, the centre forward will almost certainly be facing a two-match ban, the only consolation being he would be back for Dublin’s potential Leinster semi-final against Kilkenny on June 23rd, presuming of course Dublin beat either Carlow or Laois in their quarter-final on June 2nd.

McCrabbe’s red card clearly caught him by surprise, after he apparently struck Galway defender David Collins across the hand, and replays suggested it was a harsh call. If Dublin do decide to request a hearing it’s likely they’ll focus on this incident, but it maintains their disappointing disciplinary record of late – given they also finished the previous league game, against Waterford, with 14 men, after defender Dean Curran was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

Manager Anthony Daly hardly disguised his frustration afterwards, although he was ultimately more critical of what Westmeath referee Barry Kelly let go than what he actually called up: “Congress is over for this year,” said Daly, “but, my God, some of the stuff that was going on out there, I just think somebody needs to sit down and have a look at this thing.

“I’m not saying he was favouring either team, but some of the tackles there, if it was in my day it would be . . . it’s unbelievable. But you are seen as if you are ruining it if you do.”

Yet Daly was hardly forgiving either of O’Dwyer’s disciplinary record, even though he didn’t understand what exactly he was sent off: “They both gave a little dint at each other as far as I could see, but the linesman in front of me said he only saw the second one. Fellas just don’t turn around and dunt fellas with hurleys. I don’t know. I’m not saying they have it in for him, but he’s been pulled up very often. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s something we have to look at on our side as well.”

What is certain is that despite some early reports, Saturday’s replay has been switched from Tullamore to Portlaoise – the obvious reason being to provide a double-bill for the Dublin supporters, as their under-21 footballers are also in action in Portlaoise in the first of the All-Ireland Under-21 semi-finals, against Cork.

That game will be the curtain-raiser (2pm), with the Dublin-Galway replay set for 4pm – with extra-time, and don’t rule that out, once again listed if required.

Saturday’s second All-Ireland Under-21 football semi-final, which sees last year’s beaten finalists Cavan taking on Roscommon, has been fixed for Pearse Park in Longford (4pm). Both games will be live on TG4.

Finally, ahead of Sunday’s two hurling league semi-finals in Thurles, Kilkenny have been named 1 to 7 favourites in their showdown against Clare, while in the other semi-final, Tipperary are 4 to 6 to advance while Cork are 6 to 4 to claim the win and book their spot in the final.

Galway manager Alan Mulholland says Michael Meehan still has a lot of work to do to be ready for the championship but he was thrilled the attacker finally made a return to action at the weekend.

Mulholland saw Meehan’s first action since last summer when he played 20 minutes for his club Caltra (kicking three points) in a league game against Williamstown at the weekend.

Meehan has not played football since Galway’s championship exit to Meath during the summer because of a troublesome ankle injury.