Referee James Owens issues a red card to Dublin’s Ryan O’Dwyer during the second half of yesterday’s All-Ireland SHC semi-final
JOHN MULLANE – 12 AUGUST 2013
WE’RE all fed up with it at this stage. Another big game, another red card. I was at Croke Park yesterday, doing a bit with RTE Radio 1, alongside Tom Dempsey. Ryan O’Dwyer’s red card was something similar to Henry Shefflin’s against Cork.
The first yellow card wasn’t a yellow, but the second one was. James Owens was left with no option. O’Dwyer, and ultimately, Dublin paid a heavy price.
So here we are again, with the referee the topic of conversation.
Now I have to say that on the whole, I thought Owens had a decent game, but it’s the inconsistency that’s maddening.
Liam Rushe should have been sent off, but his strike on Patrick Horgan was soon after O’Dwyer’s dismissal and in my opinion Owens bottled it, showing a yellow card instead.
So you had two yellows for silly things and a yellow when a red was the right call. That’s what gets to people. That’s inconsistency in all its glory.
O’Dwyer is the type of player who operates on the edge, and the decision to book him in the first minute was hasty in the extreme. Then he’s walking a tightrope for the remaining 69 minutes and unfortunately for him, he was eventually sent off.
It cost Dublin, but how gracious was Anthony Daly after the game, considering the consequences of that red card? Hats off to him. Not many would have demonstrated that kind of restraint.
This has probably been the greatest championship of all time, and yesterday we had more of the same. 62,000 people, colour, atmosphere, top-class hurling, remarkable athletes giving it everything.
But instead of talking about the displays of Rushe, Horgan and Danny Sutcliffe, the referee has overshadowed the game. And that’s wrong.
Picking through the carcass of the game itself, I was really surprised to see Dublin going with the conventional 15 on 15. At half-time, I thought that Daly would revert back to his usual system of bringing out an extra man and Dublin did that, to great effect.
It looked like they were on top, there was that goal chance for O’Dwyer and Cork were finding it difficult to break them down. Dublin were ahead by a point when O’Dwyer was sent off, but for the remainder of the game, Cork outscored them by 1-6 to 0-3.
The question I’m asking myself is: are Cork the real deal? I wasn’t convinced about them before the game but up to half-time, I was really impressed. You’d have to say that they’ve had the rub of the green three times recently, with Horgan’s Munster final red card rescinded before Shefflin and O’Dwyer being sent off in their last two games.
But their two midfielders and all six forwards scored yesterday, and when they’re in full flow, they’re difficult to stop. And the movement of Seamus Harnedy, Jamie Coughlan, Pa Cronin and Conor Lehane up front was brilliant in that first half.
For Dublin, I thought Rushe and Peter Kelly were immense, while Sutcliffe ran himself into the ground. Daly has some thinking to do now and he’s done a really terrific job with Dublin. If you told him in January that he’d win the Walsh Cup, gain promotion from Division 1B and win the Leinsterchampionship, he’d have taken that.
But I’d love to see him stay on for another year or two with Dublin because there’s a lot of potential there. And if they can get Ciaran Kilkenny on board next year, there’s no reason why Dublin can’t be contenders again in 2014.