GAA’s hands were tied once Glen objected but nothing inevitable about Kilmacud replay

Aggrieved teams entitled to remedies in rule book but they haven’t always felt obliged to seek them

Could this all have come at a worse time for the GAA? For a start there has been the low-frequency embarrassment of the All-Ireland club final’s 16th-man controversy playing out for more than a week – and for who knows how much longer.

Then, arises the fundamental problem of fitting a Kilmacud v Glen replay of into a spring-loaded schedule that confidently made no provision for a second day, having ordained “winner on the day” protocols for the club finals.

As a result, players from both teams have gone on holidays and regathering everyone will take time. The replay, if it is to take place, is most likely to happen on the weekend of March 12th, which is a rest weekend for the football league.

On Tuesday the Central Competitions Control Committee issued its decision. It has been the subject of much criticism over past week and a half for failing to make a decisive intervention and cut off the controversy’s supply of oxygen.


If they were taking precedent into account, they were correct to wait. Objecting to an All-Ireland final outcome is a big step to take and if the noises from Croke Park since shortly after the final suggested a replay would be the most likely remedy, there was also the hope that this would not be triggered.

To be fair to the authorities, they had precedent in support of this stance. The 1995 All-Ireland final had seen Dublin’s Charlie Redmond sent off but remain on the field of play. The incident is an interesting illustration of the elasticity of time or at least its perception.

Almost immediately his illicit moments on the field were being estimated at two minutes but pretty quickly, this had stretched to four or five. Even last week when this was being cited in the current context, a national website referred to Redmond spending “three minutes” on the pitch after his dismissal.

16th man Kilmacud

It was actually 28 seconds during which time he didn’t touch the ball nor did play approach him. By comparison Kilmacud supernumerary Dara Mullin spent 38 illicit seconds on the field before realising he shouldn’t be there and making his way off.

Tyrone players decided not to challenge the one-point defeat on such a tenuous basis. “We had our chance to win it and we weren’t going to win it in the boardroom,” said Peter Canavan on RTÉ a few days ago.

In the club final replay of 2007, Crossmaglen Rangers benefited from an extra player for the final quarter of the match against Dr Crokes of Killarney because the referee hasn’t ordered off John McEntee for a second yellow card, shown in the 45th minute.

McEntee was prudently substituted four minutes later and his team completed the match with 14 rather than 13 men – for further complication, two other players, one from either side, were more conventionally sent off during the second half.

Few thought the additional man had impacted on the result (Cross won 0-13 to 1-5) but 15 minutes is a long time compared to 38 seconds and 28 seconds.

In the aftermath, inevitably the question of an objection was posed. “Absolutely not. That is not our form. The bottom line is I have gone in and congratulated them,” said Crokes’ manager, Pat O’Shea when dismissing the possibility.

At the time of writing it’s not clear what the Dublin champions will do about the decision. They can go to the Central Appeals Committee but in the absence of any obvious procedural flaw, the most likely destination is the Disputes Resolution Authority.

It is not unreasonable for the CCCC to wait until an aggrieved club decides how badly they want the remedy. Should the committee or its predecessors have intervened in the above cases regardless of the wishes of the defeated team?

It’s worth noting that whereas Tyrone in 1995 were faced with an impossible choice, as rules at that time would have required Dublin on objection to forfeit the title, Dr Crokes were subject to the current, more nuanced rule book with its range of penalties and could have pushed for – and almost certainly secured – a replay

Once activated by Glen’s objection, the CCCC’s task was straightforward. They had to adjudicate on whether there had been 16 players on the field, which didn’t take long, and the next question was which of the three penalties to impose.

It had already been intimated that a replay would be their choice – “depending on circumstances” being taken to mean that there were just two points separating the teams rather than what actually happened in the 38 seconds that Mullin remained on the field and whether he could realistically be said to have influenced the outcome.

This is “strict liability” reading of Rule 6.44. It wasn’t necessary for Kilmacud to have done anything wrong – the GAA acknowledged the failings of the match officials in allowing this to happen – just for there to have been too many players on the field.

Once that was determined and there had been less than a score in the difference, there was no choice but to come to the decision they did.

Kilmacud’s contention that the referee’s report is “sacrosanct”, whereas broadly true doesn’t take into account that certain matters can be raised after a match and this is one of them, as provided by the rules.

At the time of writing it’s not clear what the Dublin champions will do about the decision. They can go to the Central Appeals Committee but in the absence of any obvious procedural flaw, the most likely destination is the Disputes Resolution Authority.

Coincidentally, the very first issue heard by the DRA involved Kilmacud Crokes and their Dublin player, Mark Vaughan, and whether the county championship was the same competition as the provincial championship for the purposes of suspension.

It wasn’t and Kilmacud won the DRA’s very first decision. They’ll be most anxious to win what may well be the tribunal’s next case.