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Brolly laments Tyrone's dose of ref justice

Maurice Deegan came in for criticism from Joe Brolly after Sunday's semi-final
Picture: Philip Walsh  
Pundit Watch with Niall Gartland

NOW Maurice Deegan knows how Pádraig Hughes feels, with Joe Brolly launching a scathing attack on the Laois official in the wake of Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final. 

Between poor kick-outs, poor shooting, and quite possibly poor refereeing, Tyrone failed to do what Tyrone do and defeat Kerry at Croke Park. But despite the horrid weather, it was all sweetness and light in The Sunday Game studio initially, with Brolly, Colm O’Rourke and Ciaran Whelan all in their best behaviour – Brolly even looked as if he’d brought his communion outfit. All three reluctantly gave Kerry the nod – Whelan predicted a two or three-point victory for the Kingdom, and Colm O’Rourke said the butter-wouldn’t-melt Kerry men could “play it whatever way necessary to win.” 

Brolly too anticipated a Kerry victory on the grounds “that Tyrone don’t score enough goals.” Tyrone then decided to prove Joe right by spurning a series of gilt-edged goal opportunities.

A late Kieran Donaghy point gave Kerry the lead at the interval, and our pundits were beginning to doubt themselves (there’s a first). Brolly was edging close to jumping back on the Tyrone bandwagon for the first time in about seven years, claiming the Red Hands would be ‘buzzing’ and that a goal would win the game. 

O’Rourke stayed strong and affirmed that Kerry’s subs bench would make the difference, and his Dublin counterpart basically decided to sit on the fence. So far, so uncontroversial, but in the second half, Pádraig McNulty had a decent penalty shout turned down – and was booked by Maurice Deegan for his troubles. Brolly was in no mood to give the Laois referee the benefit of the doubt.

“He did something to Tyrone today which normally happens between consenting adults. It was an obvious penalty and there’s no point in trying to gloss over that," he said.

“Tyrone suffered from their previous behaviour. The referees came together in a workshop and said ‘we’ve got to clamp down on Sean Cavanagh, we’ve got to clamp down on this.’ Then, in his mind he is thinking ‘is that a dive?’ If that was Colm Cooper at the other end, that’s a definite penalty.”

O’Rourke believed that karmic retribution was at play, claiming the Red Hands were “paying for the sins of the past because they definitely deserved a second penalty.”

Tyrone’s troubles in front of goal was a recurring factor. Brolly claimed: “the decisive factor in the game was Tyrone failing to take the goal chances that they created through that middle channel.” 

O’Rourke believed: “Kerry were the better team and played the better football. They were under pressure with 10 minutes to go and Kerry came back and got four points – that’s the sign of a great team.”

Whelan, public number one enemy in Tyrone ahead of today’s match after calling for Tiernán McCann to don sackcloth and ashes, said the game was the shot in the arm the Championship needed but agreed with Brolly that Tyrone would rue their spurned goal chances.

All and all, a Kerry and Tyrone match was never going to be incident free, and so it proved.

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