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'I can understand why I was sent-off' — John Small on Leinster final red card

Small sat out Dublin’s Super 8s opener against Donegal due to the one-match ban he received.

John Small was on hand today to launch Aoibheann’s Pink Tie Dublin GAA jersey takeover in Parnell Park.
John Small was on hand today to launch Aoibheann’s Pink Tie Dublin GAA jersey takeover in Parnell Park.

DUBLIN DEFENDER JOHN Small admits he “can understand” why he was sent-off in their recent Leinster final win over Laois.

Small wasn’t long on the field in the provincial decider when he received a straight red card for striking Laois forward Evan O’Carroll as he looked to wrestle the ball out of his hands.

The Ballymun Kickhams clubman picked up a one-match suspension from the CCCC for the incident. Dublin appealed the ban but it was upheld by the CHC and Small missed their Super 8s opener against Donegal.

Jim Gavin indicated his frustration at the decision in the wake of the victory over Donegal. “He hit the ball first,” Gavin said after the game. “We gave conclusive evidence that the ball was struck first and it was just an accidental hit. (I’m) very disappointed with that one.”

Small took a more considered view and admitted he left himself open to being punished.

“I tried to play the ball but I can understand why I was sent-off,” he said. “The referees are just trying to do their best and we just take the decision and we moved on.

John Small is sent off by Referee Barry Cassidy Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I just received the red card and went off the pitch.”

The 25-year-old returned to the starting team for last weekend’s trip to Omagh and kicked a point in the 1-14 to 0-14 victory.

“It was great I had the opportunity to represent the group, to get back in and try do my best for the team.

“You just play it the way you see it. If the opportunity arises to go up and get a score that’s the way it just transpired.

“The game is so dynamic and it’s always evolving. Half-backs have to be able to go forward and forwards have to be able to get back. It’s just the way it is.

“We were lucky to get out of Omagh with a win. There was only one score in it in the end so it was good to get that win.”

Peter Harte and John Small Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Former Dublin goalkeeper John O’Leary said this week that Dublin’s tactic of playing keep-ball in the closing stages of games is risky, but Small doesn’t see it that way.

“We just play the game as we see it and stick to our processes and see how the game transpires. If that’s the way it goes, that’s the way it goes.

“There’s a lot of intelligent guys out on the field and they’re just sticking to what they think is right. When they have the ball they do what they feel they need to do. That’s just the way it goes.

“We’ll just go back and review the Tyrone game and prepare really well for the Roscommon game.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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