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16th Jul 2023

Sean Cavanagh gets a rise out of Colm Cooper with referee comments

Patrick McCarry

Sean Cavanagh

The legends had a post-match difference of opinions.

Colm Cooper took exception to Sean Cavanagh’s take on the refereeing of Joe McQuillian, in the RTÉ studio, after Kerry defeated Derry.

Kerry defeated a spirited Derry side by two points in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-finals, after a second half comeback against the Ulster side.

While many expected Derry to come fast out of the blocks but possibly tail off in the second half, the Oak Leafers led by two at the break and kept their noses in front until late in the piece. It was in the final 15 minutes that Stephen O’Brien and David Clifford stepped up with big moments, and scores.

Many Derry supporters, and some on their playing panel, took offence to what they deemed to be soft frees awarded to Kerry. The reigning champs did not quibble and made those frees count on the scoresheet.

Those frees proved crucial in the final running as The Kingdom were able to pull clear, leaving Derry needing a goal with their final play. As it turned out, Shane McGuigan put oo much sauce on his free and it went over for a point, leaving his side stranded and two short of forcing extra time.

Up in The Sunday Game studios, Sean Cavanagh felt for Derry after they left it all out on the pitch. He commented:

“There were some very marginal calls from Joe McQuillian… I would suggest one or two were very soft.”

Sitting one seat away, Kerry legend Colm Cooper piped up that ‘you could say that’ about frees being awarded ‘on both sides’.

Not content with one nudge at Kerry and Cooper, Cavanagh looked ahead to the final against Dublin, in a fortnight, by saying, “I feel it is Kerry’s to lose, at this stage.”

“You’re putting the pressure on,” Cooper fired back. “You’re putting it on!”

The former Tyrone captain was not finished there. As the panel discussed the brilliance of Kerry captain David Clifford, Cavanagh said:

David Clifford can do it all… he can save RTE at this stage!”

As Cavanagh grinned like a Cheshire cat, all host Joanne Cantwell could do was sink her face into the nearest palm available.

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