Cian O'Neill left livid after Kildare cut short to 14 men
Daniel Flynn red-carded for strike on Galway’s Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh in 46th minute
Kildare’s Daniel Flynn is sent off by Referee Sean Hurson in the All-Ireland SFC quarter-final Phase 2 game against Galway at St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Strange how some managers see absolutely everything when others simply go blind, Cian O’Neill recalling in both vivid and livid detail the incident that cut short his team to 14 men - and perhaps ultimately cut short Kildare’s interest in the Super 8s.
They’ll play Kerry on Saturday week in a game that can still save Kerry’s interest, but for Kildare a semi-final is already out of reach. Strange thing is Kildare didn’t play like a team who lost Daniel Flynn to a straight red card on 46 minutes, pressing Galway harder still before surrendering in the four minutes of added time, 0-19 to 0-16.
Too late to save the game, only for Kerry’s late rally to draw against Monaghan up in Clones at least saving something for that last round on Saturday week.
Flynn, buoyant in the first half, got his orders for an off-the-ball strike on the back of the head of Galway full back Seán Andy Ó Ceallaigh, before closing in on the Galway goalmouth. O’Neill wasn’t disputing the devil but rather the detail, claiming Flynn had more or less taken some refereeing into his own hands, or rather he “threw back”.
“The fact you’re asking the question there is obviously a talking point,” started O’Neill. “I remained very diplomatic and dignified last week, over a couple of things, which were very much 50-50.
“Once it branches outside 50-50 and moves into 60-40 or 70-30 on some calls it is really disappointing. Those lads have trained as hard as any other player in the country still in the Super 8s, it has been a long season.
Pulling and dragging
“The marginal calls, you get some of those, I don’t have a problem with that. But it wasn’t the referee. For the linesman to actually create with he thinks he saw that leads to a red card, when you consider we were pleading with both linesmen for the full match to watch pulling and dragging particularly from our kick-outs, I think it is an absolute disgrace. And I mean an absolute disgrace, that you can be selective in what you see and choose to act upon.”
O’Neill was adamant that Flynn was being harassed to the extent he had to take the law into his own hands.
“I’ve talked with Daniel, and he’s devastated,” said O’Neill. “He was literally being man-handled, literally being dragged. He was shoving to get the man off him.
“Once again the linesman doing absolutely nothing, and then he literally threw back. It wasn’t an elbow or a fist, of course the theatrics come into it, but you can’t blame a player for that. You just expect the people who are supposed to be officiating to get those calls right. Considering they are all qualified referees I don’t know where the game is going.”
Kerry’s late, late comeback to draw with Monaghan at least gives them something to play for heading home to Killarney on Saturday week: Monaghan now need to beat Galway to be sure of making the semi-finals, when Kerry’s fate may well come down to scoring difference.
Kildare will be playing only for pride: “I’m devastated for the lads,” added O’Neill. “Last week (against Monaghan) we came up short, we were disappointed with our execution, and our game management. To be honest we deserved to lose that in a tight contest.
“Here, to do what we did in the second half, with 14 men, I thought it was a credit to the players, the effort they put in this year. Three points was the final difference and maybe that reflected the game itself, but if we were 15 versus 15 it would have been a very different game? Unfortunately we didn’t get to see that.
“Once again I’ve said it these guys will never be questioned physically in terms of their conditioning, the work rate. The mental fatigue is where I thought we got caught last week, but here we had a really restful week, we needed to mind the players after all their efforts they put in.
“I was delighted with how they turned up in that department. I think once again it was more our execution, 10 minutes before half-time and 10 minutes after half-time, we had lots of chances, we didn’t take them. They did. Ultimately that is what cost us.”
Flynn, meanwhile, will be suspended for that Kerry game on Saturday week, unless Kildare decide to appeal against his automatic one-match ban, and depending on what exactly is the definition of a “throw back”.