Meath are getting used to controversy in finals.
Meath will face Louth this weekend in the Leinster football championship, and people are still talking about Joe Sheridan’s controversial goal in the 2010 Leinster final. Louth had a right to feel completely hard done by, and so do Antrim after the Christy Ring fiasco.
Unfortunately, what should have been the biggest achievement in Meath’s hurling history has been overshadowed by the disastrous scoreboard controversy in the Christy Ring final.
This time, however, no blame can be pointed at the Royals.
The game actually finished level (2-17 to 1-20), but the referee and the Croke Park scoreboard incorrectly recorded a one-point victory for Meath (2-18 to 1-20).
The CCCC are meeting today to discuss their next move, and it has been widely suggested that they will indeed order a replay.However, a replay seems unlikely.
Meath hurling chairman TJ Reilly told the Hogan Stand that “it would be impossible” to replay the final, citing the travelling plans of Meath players and the upcoming Meath club championship fixtures as barriers.
I spoke to two of the Meath hurlers yesterday, and they both felt that a replay was out of the question. One said;
“If we have a vote, we won’t agree to a replay.”
Yes, Antrim are extremely hard done by, and no one can really blame them for demanding a replay. It is tough to lose any final, but to be denied via an error in score keeping is impossible to stomach.
But sport is cruel. No replay was granted to Louth in 2010, and although the circumstances are different here, the principle is the same. To grant replays based on officiating mistakes in any sport would create a dangerous precedent.
Where would we draw the line?
It’s also hard to envision how a replay could work.
It seems too late to take the trophy off Meath, and there are plenty of barriers – such as Meath players jetting off to the States – which stand in the way of any potential replay. Antrim should not be punished for the GAA’s mistakes, but neither should Meath.
How can a team be expected to organize themselves for an immediate replay after enjoying and celebrating the biggest victory in their history?
Speaking on the Sunday Game, pundit Anthony Daly claimed that the GAA should promote both teams to the Liam McCarthy Cup next season. This is the only one fair way to resolve the horrendous mess created by those officiating at Croke Park on Saturday.
However, GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghaíl today ruled out any possibility of a double promotion, stating that;
“If the game ended in a draw, there is only one action they can take. That is not an option. The CCCC will consider the referee’s report and will take responsibility for this matter; they won’t hedge duck or dive. As I said, if the game ended in a draw, there is only one action they can take.”
This appears to leave the situation at a crossroads, with Meath unwilling to partake in a replay and the GAA unwilling to promote two teams.
Both teams have been let down by poor officiating, and so has the entire Christy Ring competition. The best solution would be to promote both teams, but unfortunately, this looks highly unlikely.