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'It looked like a harsh red card from where I was at' - Kilcoo progress after All-Ireland club battle

Kilcoo coach Conleith Gilligan reflects on yesterday’s All-Ireland semi-final win.

Referee Brendan Cawley sends off Aidan Branagan.
Referee Brendan Cawley sends off Aidan Branagan.
Image: Ken Sutton/INPHO

KILCOO COACH CONLEITH Gilligan felt Aidan Branagan was harshly sent-off in the dramatic conclusion to normal time in yesterday’s All-Ireland club semi-final.

Kilcoo ran out five-point winners over Cork and Munster champions St Finbarr’s, but needed extra-time before they shook off the determined challenge of their opponents in Portlaoise.

In normal time Kilcoo had a chance to win the game when Paul Devlin sized up a free but the decision was overturned by referee Brendan Cawley after an incident involving Branagan, who was subsequently sent-off, and St Finbarr’s Adam Lyne.

“Look it’s very hard to make a call on it because you seen it in normal time and in normal time, the player was encroaching Paul Devlin, trying to put him off,” said Gilligan, speaking immediately after the game on the pitch at O’Moore Park.

“Now when a player is encroaching and trying to put a free-taker off, it should be a 13m move forward because he has done it on the other side but Aidan came in with a shoulder.

“Look, it looked like a harsh red card from where I was at. Having not seen it the second time, it looked shoulder to shoulder, the player seemed to go down a wee bit soft.

“But unless I see it again, out of character for Aidan Branagan and he was doing it to try and protect Paul. But look the referee seen it and that threw the game towards extra-time. The way Paul was kicking, there was a fair chance he would have kicked it over because he had the breeze. It was one of them things and the extra-time hopefully will stand to us.”

ian-maguire-and-aidan-branagan-clash Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

After emerging from a huge test of their credentials as favourites, Gilligan questioned the conditions in which the game was played at with the removal of the water breaks.

The stoppage midway through either half had been in place when Kilcoo and St Finbarr’s won their respective provincial titles a fortnight ago, with Gilligan feeling it was unfair to change the system for a championship that was still ongoing.

“Look I suppose (for) players and management to take away the water break in the middle of a competition was very unfair. If you start a competition some way, you should finish it that way because obviously we were trying to get messages on. Obviously I think there was five times the amount of Finbarrs supporters behind us than there was people in Kilcoo, so it was very hard to hear anything. I thought the players done really well to control things on their own.

“Look I completely understand why from a management of the officials point of view. The fact that nobody can get in and no messages and they’re so strict on things, it is difficult. It’s one of the fastest field sports you can get. People say rugby but rugby is a very slow game, there’s rucks, it’s a very different game. To compare Gaelic football and rugby is very unfair.

“I think they probably have to look at that. That’s for somebody else. But I think the fact that the competition started with water breaks, it probably should have finished it out that way. Look the rules are the rules and we’ll just have to manage it.”

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ryan-johnston-at-the-end-of-the-game Kilcoo's Ryan Johnston at the end of the game. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

After suffering a painful experience in extra-time two years ago at the hands of Corofin in the final, Gilligan praised his players for how they responded to the occurrence of the additional period yesterday.

“I suppose look we learned a very harsh lesson against Corofin. We had pulled back four points in a row and we had them under the cosh and got to extra-time. I suppose we were very energetic and pumped up going in off that game and thought we had all the momentum, but we probably couldn’t replicate that energy in the extra-time.

“I suppose the one thing we learned, we were very, very calm, we reset and we started again. We changed the team, we brought a couple players in, just that we thought was going to do the job. Justin Clark, he had a hand in two of the points, the first two points maybe in extra-time, he got fouled for one, it was a massive thing in terms of the game. We’ve been there before, we’ve already had two extra-times through Ulster and Down, so we were kind of used to that which was good.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from Portlaoise

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