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'That was the definition of a cynical foul. Does the crime fit the punishment in this instance? The answer is no'

Marc Ó Sé and Shane Dowling take a closer look at a late incident in Mayo’s Connacht final win over Galway on The42 GAA Weekly.

DESPITE THE DRAMA at the death in Salthill yesterday, Mayo captured their first Connacht crown since 2015.

The Green and Red held off a late Galway rally to lift the Nestor Cup for the 47th time, and maintain James Horan’s winning run in six Connacht finals as manager.

sean-kelly-is-tackled-by-eoghan-mclaughlin Galway’s Sean Kelly is tackled by Eoghan McLaughlin of Mayo late in the game. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

And while Mayo never trailed apart from the opening seconds, the outcome could have been very different come the final whistle with Galway star Shane Walsh missing two difficult injury-time frees before the Tribe saw a goal chance taken from them.

Sean Kelly was pulled down as he bore down on goal in the dying seconds, Eoghan McLaughlin shown a black card for the challenge before Walsh tapped over to make it a one-point game. It stayed that way as the whistle sounded, the game finishing 0-14 to 0-13.

There’s no doubt about it, McLaughlin’s tackle was a last-ditch cynical foul, but Horan will be happy the Westport man did what he did. Mayo’s desire is to win at all costs, as they chase that elusive Sam Maguire.

Of course, this was a big talking point on The42 GAA Weekly with Kerry and Limerick All-Ireland winners Marc Ó Sé and Shane Dowling.

Shane Dowling: ”That was the definition of a cynical foul. It arguably won his team the game. Does the crime fit the punishment in this instance? The answer to that is no, it doesn’t. That is absolute textbook defending if you ask me, take your black card every day of the week and off you go.

“This could get messy, but just a suggestion from me is that you see in rugby when you’re going to get a guaranteed try and somebody does something to stop that, the referee gives a penalty try. I’m not saying give them a goal, but if it was brought in that you could award a team a penalty if it’s considered a cynical foul inside a certain area…”

Marc Ó Sé: ”To be honest, that’s a great point and I think you’re right on the money there. It’s something that should definitely be brought in.

“That’s where Croke Park need to be more vocal. Case in point, Sean Kavanagh and Conor McManus years ago for that one where [Joe] Brolly came out and went crazy. Think about it, the black card came in because of it. That’s why the black card came in, because of those personal fouls.”

sean-hurson-black-cards-eoghan-mclaughlin Sean Hurson shows Eoghan McLaughlin a late black card. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Ó Sé went on to recount his own playing days, the different style of play and how his brother and Kerry team-mate Tomás expertly played that attacking half-back role.

And he had a few nice words for referee Sean Hurson, who did “a damn good job” on Mayo-Galway, proactive in talking to players and telling them what they did wrong.

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MÓS: ”For the free in where McLaughlin cynically pulled your man, you could see the ref straight away and he pointed exactly where it had happened. He didn’t even have to consult his umpires. He knew exactly where it was.

“You look back at the replay of it and you say, ‘Fair play to this guy for getting that bang on.’ Can you imagine if there was a penalty there straight away? We’d be looking back on The Sunday Game saying, ‘Jesus, there should have been no penalty there.’” 

SD: ”On that, something is going to happen some day soon… Limerick — and I’m not saying it because I was involved — against Kilkenny last year in the All-Ireland semi-final, a poor decision was made by Alan Kelly, the referee.

“It’s very easy to go down his throat but he’s only human, he missed it. If that referee gave a penalty today and Mayo were knocked out, there could have been holy war. I think someday soon a referee is going to make a decision because they genuinely just didn’t see it right and there could be trouble.

“I think he should be able to talk to somebody who’s at a television screen for big decisions.

MÓS: ”Are you suggesting VAR, Shane?

SD: ”I’m suggesting something similar because I think a referee is going to get a clip one of the days.”

Ó Sé went on to agree with Dowling’s suggestion, delving deeper into the fact that decisions can be contested in tennis.

MÓS: ”I think something needs to be brought into the GAA where a manager can question three things. If you bring in something like VAR, the game would be slowed down so much, whereas if you’re allowed to question two or three things, then you have a situation where the game is still played, it’s only going to take 30 seconds to go back on something and look at it.

“No different to your point if it’s the last man in and somebody is brought down, it’d be a penalty. I think something should be done where managers are allowed to query two or three refereeing decisions. I think that’s something that could really help the game as well, and it would actually make the referee’s job a lot easier. ”

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Emma Duffy

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