Noel McGrath sent off in shocking circumstances in Munster semi-final
Noel McGrath had been on the receiving end of an off-the-ball belt from Paddy Leavy when a minute later, he made his way back to the Ballygunner man to settle a score.
McGrath was clever enough not to use a hurl just a shoulder to hit Leavy back but the Ballygunner man went down and he went down like he'd been hit by a hurl. Referee Johnny Murphy made his way over to his linesman who, given that he was looking at McGrath's and Leavy's backs when the contact was made, couldn't possibly have known the extent or the details of the collision.
Murphy called McGrath over and immediately you feared the worst. He flashed his red card and reeling with the shock of it all, the Tipperary man could barely muster the strength to give out about it. Within seconds he was head in hands in the Loughmore-Castleiney dug-out, his game and Munster championship over in unjust circumstances.
The last thing you want to do is criticise officials but given that Murphy didn't seem to see the collision and given that his linesman couldn't possibly have seen it, to make such a big call on what appears to be guess-work is really, really poor.
To Loughmore-Castleiney's credit, they rallied and they rallied like always do. Murphy levelled things up with some soft frees as is always the way but with Noel McGrath looking so sharp to that point, his loss was unquantifiable for the Tipperary champions.
"I don't understand it for a second," said Mícheál Ó Domhnaill on TG4.
— D O'Ceallaigh (@Doceallaigh85) December 12, 2021
"I don't understand it either," added Michael Rice, "He didn't use his hurl. He used his shoulder. There is no way that's a red card." added the Kilkenny man.
Unbelievably, things were about to get worse. Having won a penalty with ten minutes left and with just four points between the sides, Noel's brother John was shown a second yellow for flicking the ball out of Barry Coughlan's hand.
Again, The Ballygunner man made a meal out of it before the referee took centre stage. In terrible weather conditions, Dessie Hutchinson finished the Tipperary champions off but after those decisions, it all felt like an anti-climax.
Either way, Loughmore-Castleiney can be proud of all they've given to this club season. For Ballygunner, it's Munster final time.