Nicky English: Ridiculous decision for Tipp penalty could force a rule change

Brian Lohan rightly angry with referee after controversial decision just after half-time

This was impressive by Tipperary. I thought they looked in good shape and more dangerous than they have in a while. If you use Bubbles O'Dwyer as barometer the team was more 2019 than 2020. They had a hunger and fitness that you associate with teams trained by Liam Sheedy and they can actually look forward to the Munster final challenge against Limerick with a bit more optimism.

None of this is to overlook or ignore the impact of Aidan McCarthy's sin binning just after half-time. At that stage Clare led by two and although I felt they were a bit lucky on the run of play to be in front at the break, their manager Brian Lohan had every right to be angry at what happened. I'd have been the same.

They lost the sin-bin period 2-4 to 0-2 and never regained the initiative.

I thought the decision was ridiculous and Clare had further cause for unhappiness in Barry Heffernan's foul on Aran Shanagher late in the game, which was more of text-book sin-binning than McCarthy's had been.


I believe what happened may well be a rule-changing event when it’s analysed and debated. It’s simply unreasonable to expect a referee or any human being to adjudicate on a goal scoring opportunity when the action is in the corner, well away from the goal.

We’re asking referees to do the impossible when expecting them to adjudicate on it. The rule is not clearly enough defined and the three definitions of cynical fouling don’t include holding the hurley.

My former UCD full back Huw Lawlor got into trouble doing that last year and on Saturday it happened twice to his Kilkenny team-mate Eoin Cody.

He would have had a far better chance of scoring a goal had his hurley not been held than Jake Morris yesterday, who in my view hadn't a hope of scoring a goal. What is actually more cynical than pulling the hurley out of someone's hand?

I still think that Tipperary were the better team and can take lots of positives out of the match. They worked unbelievably hard and showed very good touch. Séamus Callanan got more and more involved, Jason Forde was very classy and the subs played well.

After being under pressure from a lively Clare opening assault, Tipp’s defence settled and was imperious in the second half. There’s no doubt that they face a challenge against Limerick in the Munster final but whereas I wouldn’t have given them much chance on Saturday morning, given the way Limerick played that evening, Tipperary may be more dangerous than originally thought.

Saturday’s sin bins were of a different order and it was interesting how both Limerick and Kilkenny limited the damage when they lost players to the same rule. In fact I’d argue it helped Limerick. The natural instinct is for teams reduced to 14 to up their work rate and that seemed to kick-start the champions.

It certainly seemed to kick-start Lynch, who was hugely influential in the period before half-time when his vision created the first goal for Darragh O'Donovan, also helped by a treacherous deflection off Seán O'Donoghue.

Seconds later Kyle Hayes, who was a real driver for Limerick, got up the field to remind us of his past life in the forwards with a great strike for a second goal. The energy of this phase turned the match on its head and gave Limerick a killer six-point lead for the second half, which had to be demoralising for Cork.

I was very disappointed by Cork’s attack. It lacked conviction and accuracy even in point taking let alone threatening any more goals.

This goes down as an opportunity missed because Limerick looked out of gas in the closing stages and were there for the taking for a lot of the second half but Cork couldn’t get the margin any lower than four.

There are teams, however, who will put Limerick away if they offer the opportunities that they gave Cork – Tipp included.

Kilkenny look to be another after the epic extra-time win over Wexford. I think they're stronger this year with Adrian Mullen now getting back to his best after injury and I was interested to James Maher come in and do so well off the bench. He is a quality player who if he stays injury-free is another improvement.

Eoin Cody also came of age and looked dangerous all the way through, proving it with the extra-time goal. They don’t look as dependent on TJ Reid and that bodes well.

Galway are the big losers. They went for goals early on and the failure to get them both inspired Dublin and appeared to create doubts in their own minds. It’s strange how much of a problem they have experienced in this fixture during a decade when they finally won an All-Ireland and performed strongly in championships whereas Dublin have never really threatened at that level but lead the head-to-head 4-3 with one draw – and recently added an under-20 victory in Leinster.