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'Obscene', 'Not fair', 'Not right' - NUIG, UCD and Corofin managers on fixture clash

Kieran Molloy and Liam Silke had to choose between club and college on Saturday.

pjimage (19) Maurice Sheridan, John Divilly and Kevin O'Brien Source: Inpho

IN THE 49th minute of Saturday’s Sigerson Cup final, wing-back Kieran Molloy was heavily involved in the NUI Galway move that led to Adam Gallagher’s goal.

The decision to spring him off the bench 10 minutes earlier looked like a masterstroke.

Molloy had just completed a madcap dash from Tullamore to Santry when he joined his college mates on the field in the 39th minute against UCD.

Less than 90 minutes earlier, he was celebrating on the O’Connor Park turf with Corofin as they reached the All-Ireland final despite playing almost the entire game with 14 men.

Kieran Molloy celebrates after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Molloy completed the full 60 minutes for the Connacht champions before receiving a Garda escort to Santry where he was unable to prevent NUIG falling to a one-point defeat to the Belfield side.

“It’s obscene,” NUIG boss Maurice Sheridan said of the demands placed on Molloy. “It’s absolutely horrendous.

“We dashed him up the road. He’s a heroic type of guy. He loves his club, he loves his university and he’s a very honest individual.”

Kieran Molloy Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Molloy’s fellow Corofin defender Liam Silke missed the chance to win the title with UCD on the field of play. The corner-back raced forward to bury the game-winning goal in the final minute against Moorefield, but didn’t join Molloy up the road to the Sigerson final.

Silke was treated for an injured finger after Corofin’s success, although UCD manager John Divilly said he was never going to play twice in the one day.

“Liam was going to travel up if we wanted him to, but I wasn’t going to put him in there today. No way,” said Divilly.

“Fair play to Kieran Molloy, he was savage. He came in and he played brilliantly. But I wouldn’t do that to a player.

“He’s after giving an hour’s football. It’s not fair, I just feel very sorry for Kieran and Liam, and I’d know them quite well.”

Liam Silke scores the winning goal despite Liam Callaghan and goaljeeper Tom Kinsella Liam Silke scores the winning goal for Corofin Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Meanwhile back in Tullamore, victorious Corofin manager Kevin O’Brien bemoaned the situation, which also saw both Molloy and Silke feature for their respective colleges in the Sigerson semi-finals on Wednesday night.

“Very disappointing,” he said. “It was unfortunate that the decision was taken out of their hands like that, but UCD in John Divilly and NUIG in Maurice Sheridan – we worked with them well.

“There was a great understanding there between the three camps. The lads played during the week and it was unfortunate that they couldn’t play today. It’s not right, but I don’t make the fixtures.

“(On Wednesday night) we asked the managers to put them only in for a period of time and they did that and I’ve huge respect for them for that.

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“Liam went in for 15 minutes and ended up playing 45 so I didn’t enjoy my cup of tea on Wednesday night, but he came through it well and fair play to them.”

Stephen Coen lifts The Sigerson Cup Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

For both Sheridan and Divilly, there was a sense of frustration that the GAA didn’t see this fixture clash coming down the line.

“It was flagged three months ago that this could happen,” said Divilly.

Sheridan added: “It’s a pity that we didn’t have Kieran (for the whole game) and it’s a pity that the final wasn’t allowed to be on a bit later in the day, which would have accommodated him.

“The GAA have to look at that with player welfare and all the stuff that they go on about,” he continued.

Divilly was insistent all parties need to sit down and come to an agreement on a proper fixture schedule if the Sigerson Cup is to remain alive.

“If the GAA are serious about this – and there is a new GAA President coming in – he needs to sit down with third level colleges, and I don’t mean the third level committee,” he said.

“The committee are trying their best but they need to bring us all in and say, ‘How can we make this competition survive into the future?

“Okay, it doesn’t matter that there weren’t that many spectators here – the players love it, the effort, it was savage out there. They all want to participate, they all want to win.

“I hope the GAA learn from the debacle in the last few weeks. Don’t start talking about it, just sit down and bring us into a room and maybe listen to the people who are at the coalface and start taking decisions from the ground up.”

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