Relief for Kerry as Stephen O’Brien cleared to play against Dublin in final

Kerry boss Peter Keane has ‘no problem’ with David Gough refereeing final

Kerry manager Peter Keane shakes Stephen O’Brien’s hand  after he was shown a black card in the  All-Ireland  semi-final against Tyrone  at Croke Park. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Kerry manager Peter Keane shakes Stephen O’Brien’s hand after he was shown a black card in the All-Ireland semi-final against Tyrone at Croke Park. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

There was welcome news for Kerry on Thursday night with confirmation that Stephen O’Brien has been cleared, as was widely expected, to play in the All-Ireland final against Dublin.

The Kenmare club man had been facing an automatic one-match ban having received a third black card this season during the semi-final victory over Tyrone.

But the Kerry County Board last night successfully appealed the black card he received against Meath in the Super 8s. Manager Keane told RTÉ: “Stephen O’Brien’s black card appeal has been successful. The black card he received against Meath has been rescinded. Thankfully he’s available to play in the All-Ireland final.

“You don’t want to see any fellow miss out on the playing of the big day and Stephen has been very good for us this year and over the last few years he’s been a key player for Kerry.”

Earlier Keane had said it would be harsh if a black card card in February forced a player to miss out.

The Kerry manager made clear he has “no problem” with the appointment of David Gough as referee for the All-Ireland football final on September 1st.

Speaking at the Kerry press event, Keane also dismissed any suggestion Gough might somehow be biased towards Dublin given he resides there, or that the controversy surrounding his appointment might somehow impact on the game.

“I have no problem with David Gough,” said Keane.

“I think he is the best referee in the country at the moment in time. I don’t get hung up on referees. I was thinking about it today, we played Dublin in the league and I can’t tell you who refereed the game. The referee does his job.

“My father was a referee below in South Kerry years ago. The referee goes to do a good job. Some guys get het up that this guy does not do us any favours or that fellow does not do us any favours. Sure the referee was appointed. Was there any hoo-ha about the referee the last day. No, you get on with it.

The 36-year-old Gough is from Meath, but lives and works in Dublin, and his residency in the capital has led to some – including former Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice – suggesting he should not be allowed to officiate next month’s showpiece.

Keane disagreed: “I think he is probably the best ref in the country. If you are the best ref in the country you are used to the grief of 80,000 people inside in the ground. That is just the pressure you put with it and I don’t think it is an issue for him . . . “ The guy is out there to do the best job he can and let him at it.”

Kerry defender Paul Murphy also dismissed any suggestion the referee appointment might have a bearing on the game.

“I don’t think so,” said Murphy. “From a player’s point of view, to play in an All-Ireland is a pinnacle in your career. It’s a landmark match. You’ve had to do a load of work to get there, and you want to perform to your best. And it’s no different for a referee.

“He’s an excellent referee; he has a huge body of work behind him. He wouldn’t be getting a match like the All-Ireland without that. So, look, I’ve no issue whatsoever with him getting the game the next day. 

Keane confirmed that James O’Donoghue is back training and in contention to make the 26-strong match-day panel.

“He’s very close,” said Keane. “Everyone is okay. We met up last night, had a bit of a training session, everybody was fairly okay so we are happy enough with where we are at.

“The other side of it is that you have 30-odd fellahs who are available for selection. His name [O’Donoghue] keeps cropping up by ye, but every other fellah inside in that squad is looking for a spot as well. They are all reasonably in good shape.”

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