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The time has arrived for Delaney deals in the GAA

Joe Sheridan's lunge across the line for Meath in the 2010 Leinster final cost Louth a first provincial title in 53 years  
Against the Breeze with Paddy Heaney

COULD your county board do with an extra €5m? Would your county board like this €5m to come in the form of one of those great Fifa loans that don’t actually have to be paid back?

If so, John Delaney, the chief executive of the FAI, might have come up with the answer to all your prayers. When explaining how the FAI managed to wrangle €5m from Fifa, Delaney told RTÉ: “We felt we had a legal case against Fifa because of how the World Cup play-off hadn’t worked out for us with the Henry handball.

“Also, the way Blatter behaved, if you remember on stage, having a snigger and having a laugh at us. That day when I went in, and I told him how I felt about him, there were some expletives used and we came to an agreement. That was a Thursday and, on Monday, the agreement was all signed and all done. It’s a very good agreement for the FAI and a very legitimate agreement for the FAI.”

Delaney claims it was ‘hush, hush’ money. Fifa says it was actually a €5m loan that, in the end, they decided the FAI didn’t have to pay back - as you do. Whichever 'account' you believe, it was easy money. According to Delaney, all that was required were a few choice words and a threat to pursue legal action.

In the wake of these revelations, there must be dozens of county chairmen cursing themselves that they lacked John Delaney’s ingenious bargaining skills. Imagine the fantastic loans that could have been negotiated in Croke Park with a good lawyer and bit of effing and blinding.
Bear in mind that Ireland were only denied a chance of reaching the play-offs for the World Cup finals. If that’s the case, what price could be put on the Anglo-Celt Cup or a first ever All-Ireland title?

In the following examples, we have tried to place an estimate on the sum of money John Delaney might have extracted from Croke Park if he had been chairman of the relevant county board.

1995 ALL-IRELAND FINAL
Thierry Henry’s handball is small change when compared to the injustices suffered by Tyrone in the 1995 final. 

A year before Meath kicked, stamped, and thumped them off Croke Park, the Red Hands were denied a draw when Peter Canavan was adjudged to have picked the ball off the ground. Tyrone’s grounds for a legal case would have centred on Charlie Redmond’s red card. The Dublin man refused to leave the field of play. Under the rules at that time, the penalty for a player who didn’t go off the field was forfeiture of the game.

Injury: Denial of first All-Ireland title.

John Delaney loan deal: £6m (enough to pay for Garvaghey).

2003 ALL-IRELAND FINAL
Diarmaid Marsden and Conor Gormley were having an animated discussion when Philip Jordan rushed towards the pair. 

Diarmaid Marsden raised his hands as he saw the Tyrone player approaching him at speed. There was a collision. Jordan went down. Marsden was sent-off and Armagh played the last quarter with 14 men.

Orchard county fans contend that, if Marsden was on the field, Conor Gormley would never have made ‘The Block’. Stephen McDonnell would have slipped the ball across the square to Marsden, who would have finished to the net.

Injury: Denial of back-to-back All-Ireland titles.

John Delaney loan deal: Training Camp in La Manga for 25 years.

2011 ALL-IRELAND FINAL
With seven minutes remaining, Kerry led Dublin by four points. But, at the final whistle, Dublin had claimed their first All-Ireland title since 1995 on a scoreline of 1-12 to 1-11.

Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton dominated the headlines. But the fine print highlighted the series of decisions which kept the Dubs in contention. A double bounce before a Dublin point was missed. When Declan O’Sullivan ran into Ger Brennan’s elbow, the Dublin defender escaped a red card. Eoin Brosnan was also punished for picking the ball off the ground when he clearly hadn’t. 

When playing additional time, no account was made of the 40 to 50 seconds it took Stephen Cluxton to travel from his goalmouth to the other end of the field.

Injury: A 37th All-Ireland title for Kerry
John Delaney loan deal: €250,000.

2010 LEINSTER FINAL
Joe Sheridan’s lunge across the line was one of the better tries witnessed at Croke Park in recent years. 

In rugby, Sheridan’s last minute effort would have been perfectly valid. But the Meath man was playing in a Leinster final. Tyrone whistler Martin Sludden was perhaps the only man in the stadium who thought the score was legitimate. 

Not only were Louth denied a first Championship victory over Meath in 35 years, a first Leinster title in 53 years was also cruelly snatched away from the Wee county.

Injury: Denial of Leinster title and boasting rights with neighbours.

John Delaney Loan deal: €4m.

1997 ULSTER FINAL
Cavan 1-14 Derry 0-16. Those with short memories celebrated that Cavan had won a first Ulster title in 28 years. Aggrieved Derry supporters would have noted pointedly that the Breffni men had won the Championship on 36 previous occasions.

In 1997, Derry were searching for only their sixth provincial title. A Fermanagh umpire awarded Cavan a point after the ball went about a yard wide. A blind hawk would have seen it. Another Cavan point was awarded after a double bounce was missed.

Injury: Denial of an Ulster title.

John Delaney loan deal: €1m.

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