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28th Mar 2022

Offaly are sick but the officials made the right call about last minute free

Niall McIntyre

It was a sickening end to the game for Offaly but the rules are the rules, you’d have to say.

And when it comes to goalkeepers getting a pass-back from the player they kicked the ball out to, the rule is that, if the goalkeeper plays that ball, a free is awarded from the 13 yard line.

Paddy Dunican kicked the ball out to his midfielder Jordan Hayes who, either oblivious to the rule or after a momentary lapse of concentration, played it straight back to Dunican. Aware that trouble was coming down the tracks if he played it, and with little time to make a decision, the Shamrocks keeper called on his centre back Declan Hogan to retrieve the ball.

Hogan moved fast but, with the ball approaching the end-line, it wasn’t fast enough and so Dunican decided to play the ball before it went out for a 45. The referee correctly awarded the free-in and, to put Cork a point up, to relegate Offaly and to send them potentially heading for a season in the Tailteann Cup, Stephen Sherlock did the rest.

As he said last night in a tweet that has since been deleted, Dunican felt that, because a throw-in was given when a similar incident happened earlier on in the game, it would be the same story again here.

After re-watching that earlier incident though, it does seem that, in the official’s defence, that throw-in call was made on the basis of an Offaly player running onto the ball before it had travelled thirteen metres, which is against the rules as we can see here.

You could hardly blame the officials for that given how questionable the logic behind that rule is but there was certainly was one occasion when Offaly could feel aggrieved on Sunday. That was when Anton Sullivan, in possession of the ball, was flattened by a shoulder into the chest only to be pulled for over-carrying.

Offaly fans weren’t happy with that call but they can take plenty of positives from this League campaign in general, as their manager John Maughan did when he said that, if they’re in there, they’ll be going bald headed after that Tailteann Cup.

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